March 17, 2020
Dear OCL Families,
I would like to provide an update on OCL’s approach to COVID-19. As stated in the March 11th memo, OCL’s goal remains to provide for the health, safety and security of those we serve and to take all reasonable measures to safeguard our employees. We have been monitoring the situation closely and continue to use Ottawa Public Health as our primary source of information and implementation guidelines regarding how best to deal with COVID-19.
On Sunday, March 15th, Dr. Vera Etches, Ottawa’s Medical Officer of Health, confirmed that community transmission of the COVID-19 respiratory illness is likely, and as a result she is urging people to only leave their homes if absolutely necessary.
As a result, OCL has now taken the decision to close down our Day Program that your son or daughter attends effective immediately. Our Manager and/or staff have contacted you directly and we are following up with this letter. We realize this comes at short notice, but we are seeking your cooperation to keep your son or daughter home until further notice.
We did not take this decision lightly, but given the direction from Ottawa Public Health, we feel our decision to close our Day Program is the right one at this time to protect the health of your loved ones. At this time we do not have a definitive date when we will reopen our program, but will be in touch once a decision to reopen is made. Again, we did not take this decision lightly and have been monitoring the situation closely and have and will continue to rely on the advice from medical experts.
We have also implemented a Visitor Screening Checklist for those visiting our homes, Den Haag apartments, and in our Home Share programs to ensure the safety of both the individuals and the employees working. We are asking all homes and programs to limit visits to essential visitors only (staff, service repair technicians, family) once vetted at the door.
Please note: families are strongly encouraged to reach out to their loved one via phone and/or video, rather than any in-person visits. If you must see your family member in-person, we ask that you call ahead to schedule your visit. We will then endeavour to schedule visits to one family at a time and will ask that you follow social distancing recommendations. We have also cancelled all non-essential visits within the community (non-essential medical, dental appointments and community trips).
Home Share program: due to the unique nature of this program, with it being both a home and work environment, we ask everyone to respect the wishes of the Home Sharer should you want to visit your loved one. If you choose to take your loved one out in the community, we ask that you practice social distancing and consider not going to crowded places (i.e shopping mall). Given the increasing number of closures across the city, you may consider going for a drive or taking a walk with your loved one. The Home Sharers appreciate your understanding and support throughout this situation.
Our Supported Independent Living (SIL) program staff will do regular check-ins with the individuals in their case load, however, we have cancelled all non-essential visits within the community (non-essential medical, dental appointments and community trips).
The uncertainty of the changing situation can be distressing. It is easy to be swept up in the fears about what might happen. We need to support one another in this uncertain time and share in keeping your loved ones well.
As an agency, we are responding and are taking all recommended steps to ensure our approach is in line with best practices, with a focus on keeping those in our care well. We are monitoring the Ottawa Public Health (OPH) website that is updated twice daily, to ensure we have the most accurate information possible about the situation here in Ottawa.
This situation does remain fluid. We will continue to pass along information as we receive it. We will update you on our approach as we continue to update and revise our Business Continuity plan in response to COVID-19. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly.
Thank you for your support.