Dear Fellow Staff:
As we conclude our 5th week of the COVID-19 pandemic, I thought it would be helpful to update you on all of NCIA’s programs and how each of them has responded. I can’t tell you how proud we should all be of each of our programs–and each of you–as we have adapted to this crisis and maintained a quality level of service for our individuals. You have all demonstrated the core NCIA values on which we pride ourselves—to continue the level of care, concern and dedication to those most vulnerable. You are truly remarkable!
Our Adult Services has perhaps faced the most formidable challenge to date. We were forced to close our Career Development Center, but were fortunate to be able to offer those staff positions in our residential homes, and most of them agreed to assist in that capacity. Additionally, Dwayne and Brandi have worked diligently to design daily activities for the homes. In our Business Services department, Vanessa has continued to service the majority of our contracts, and keeps our individuals employed on a daily basis.
The staff and leadership in our residential homes have overcome significant challenges in an extraordinary manner. Imagine coordinating grocery, medication and personal hygiene orders for 45 homes and 115 individuals on a weekly basis as well as implementing all the necessary COVID-19 protocols in the homes. Our staff and leadership have accomplished this with flying colors. It has truly been outstanding!
Despite taking every possible precaution, last week our first residential staff tested positive, and a resident in that home also tested positive. Another resident in the same home had symptoms and was also tested. Fortunately, our Human Resources, Compliance, and Leadership teams were ready. PPEs were provided, and our HERO team responded and were trained immediately. We are working daily with the Maryland Department of Health to monitor and support the home. NCIA’s emergency response team is on call 24/7 to train and support any home under quarantine. Currently, the home and our residents are stable, and we are all hopeful for a positive outcome.
Our YIT School also needs to be commended. As you are aware, the school system closed on March 16th and is now due to be closed until the middle of May. The Leadership Team at the school immediately sprung into action, developed a distance-learning curriculum within two weeks, and implemented it for over 60 students. NCIA invested in tablets for every students. Dr. Chambers, our teachers, social workers and behavioral team are supporting our students on a daily basis. Students are engaged, and their families and caretakers are incredibly thankful for our continued commitment.
Finally, our HJH Vocational Training Centers faced their own unique challenges. In Baltimore, when the restrictions were announced, Gary Antonino and our staff had one cohort of 75 students graduating, and over 130 students beginning a new cohort. They too immediately developed a distance-learning curriculum and NCIA invested in cell phones and tablets to continue their training.
In our Charlotte VTC location, we faced yet another set of challenges. Katie Hoelter and her staff had recently completed the classroom learning part of their curriculum, and were now moving into the “hands-on” stage. Not being able to bring students into the training center, they were also forced into distance learning. Once again, NCIA invested in technology, including a virtual learning platform for their students, 15 of whom live in a homeless shelter.
I cannot thank each of you enough for your efforts. The individuals we serve cannot always realize nor appreciate the sacrifices you are making, but be assured you are their heroes. As your Co-Founder and CEO for the past 43 years, I find the team effort we are displaying to be beyond belief. With the leadership of our COO Carole Argo, our management team, our dedicated fiscal office and most especially, our direct service staff, we are getting through this together. Please continue our commitment, and let’s hope and pray this pandemic ends soon, and we can celebrate together.
Thanks again, and please continue to follow our website, as our communications team is doing a great job to keep everyone informed.