Participants and Families/Guardians, please visit this webpage for all updates on Sunshine Village’s response to Covid-19/Coronavirus.
We hope that you and your loved ones are doing well during this difficult time. This page will be updated as information becomes available. We look forward to reconnecting with you once this is over.
April 10, 2020: A Message from the Executive Director
I am hoping that this email finds you and your loved ones safe and healthy.
This past Monday, I sent an email letting you know that Sunshine Village was developing a plan to provide remote services for people who attend our programs. This plan was developed in response to direction from MassHealth and the Department of Developmental Services.
Within this plan, we are going to provide services in the following manner:
- TELEPHONIC: Individuals within our Day Hab programs will receive twice weekly phone calls from our team of nurses and individuals in our other programs who opted out of other service provision methods will receive a weekly phone call.
- LOW TECH / NO TECH: All individuals, unless they have opted out of services entirely, will receive two activity packets weekly through email. Emails will also be sent with a link to our website for access to tutorials created by our Clinical Team. Personalized greeting cards will be sent through the US Mail. For some individuals who receive services within our Employment Services or CBDS programs, additional offerings may be provided.
- TECHNOLOGY: We have also developed other services using remote communication tools and will begin offering small group activities for individuals who are in our Employment Services and CBDS programs.
We are aware that some individuals may not want to participate and we are also cognizant of the stress that the COVID-19 pandemic is creating. We do not want to create any additional tension in your home.
Please let us know if we need to change the frequency or method of any of the services. All of our managers have access to our email systems or you can leave a message for them at 413/592-6142.
We are so looking forward to opening our programs – and welcoming everyone back! Until then, stay safe and take care.
Gina Kos, Executive Director
April 9, 2020: How To Build A Sensory Space At Home
Click the links below to discover how easy it is to make a sensory environment that enriches your living space.
April 6, 2020: A Message from the Executive Director
Sunshine Village closed the doors to most of our programs on March 17th – under the guidance of Department of Developmental Services. Governor Baker has now closed us until May 4th. I hope to be able to welcome everyone back to Sunshine Village on May 4th….but we don’t know when the closure order will be lifted.
Last week, we began calling people at their homes to check on how they were. In our day habilitation programs, our nursing staff made the calls. We will continue these calls weekly unless we are asked to stop. We hope that having weekly access to an RN through telephonic services will make things easier for the families that people live with – or for the residential staff who are supporting our folks.
Our Case Management team made calls to people who are funded by the DDS. For these folks, we also made a call to inquire as to the level of interest in receiving remote services – in paper form, through the use of technology or just a weekly phone call.
This week, we will be working to develop remote programming for people in our DDS funded services. However, while we are doing this, if anyone would like us to try to arrange a call from a favorite staff, just let us know – and we will do what we can!
We will also begin hosting a page this week on our website – www.sunshine.us – with videos for our participants to watch. They will see familiar faces – sharing ideas to stay safe and ways to keep busy while at home.
We know how hard this is for the people we serve to be away from us and their daily schedules…because it’s hard for us too! So many employees of Sunshine Village are feeling the void in their lives – missing the daily routines that make up our great days.
We will continue to update our website with resources that we hope people will find helpful. Managers are checking voice mail and email systems – so if you need any assistance, please contact us.
Take care, be safe and stay apart…until we can come together again.
April 3, 2020: We Have Been Closed Past the “Incubation Period”
For people who are worried that they have not heard from Sunshine Village about anyone who has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, please know that as of today, April 3rd, we have been closed for 18 days. That is 4 days past the 14 day “incubation period.” Although no one at Sunshine Village is a COVID-19 expert, it is our understanding, from the time of transmission, symptoms appear within one to fourteen days. We have also read that most symptoms are evident within five days of exposure. Even if someone was exposed on March 16th – the last day that we were open – symptoms would have appeared by March 30th.
Sunshine Village was notified of one person who tested positive. We notified all the individuals who were in that person’s program (participants and employees) as well as representatives at the Department of Developmental Services – who is our primary referral agency.
If we are made aware of any other individuals who have tested positive from this point on, we will contact DDS.
April 3, 2020: Resource for Telephone and Internet Service During the Crisis
March 31, 2020: More Great Days Are Still Ahead
At Sunshine Village, we have had so many great days together – days filled with smiles, laughs, and the feelings of success and friendship. These days are still ahead of us! We just need to stay the course for a little while longer until we can all be together.
Another week has started and we still do not know when our programs will be able to open again. This can feel disappointing. We are all likely thinking about the ways our lives have changed so quickly.
Instead, let’s take a moment to think about the ways our lives are still “normal” and be thankful for the safety of our homes. We have so much to be thankful for even if it means we cannot be together with friends or family the way we would like.
At Sunshine Village, we are thinking of you and hoping that you and your loved ones are doing well. We are also thinking of our employees – and have done many things to insure that they are able to come back to work with you when we all return!
We will continue to update you – and with April almost here….we will share ways that we can celebrate Autism Awareness Month. Please continue visiting our website so we can stay connected.
March 27, 2020: Message from Executive Director
The buildings of Sunshine Village are quiet right now – but I know that when we re-open them – they will be filled with smiling faces. Great days will happen again!Unfortunately – I don’t know when we can re-open our programs. Governor Baker has issued an order that we close – and we have to stay closed until he lifts that order.
As soon as I know when we can re-open, I will let everyone know! Keep an eye on this website for updates.
Until then – take care of yourself and know that we will get thru this together…by staying apart.
Gina Kos, Executive Director
March 23, 2020: Message from Executive Director
U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams warned today [March 23rd] that the coronavirus outbreak will worsen this week and said that people across the country are not taking the threat seriously enough. The disease is spreading, he said, because many people — especially young people — are not abiding by guidance to stay at home and practice social distancing.
Sunshine Village has closed its programs and is operating its commercial cleaning business, which cleans Westover Air Reserve Base, using only essential personnel. Administrative Services will be working reduced hours, on Tuesdays from 8:00 am until 12 noon, using only essential employees.
We all have to assume that we may have come in contact with someone who was infected – and was asymptomatic (and may continue to be asymptomatic.) People we live with may have been exposed. As we go to the supermarket or pharmacy, we may come in contact with the virus.
We need to continue to practice social distancing and proper and frequent hand washing.
If you are not feeling well try to use Teladoc services through your health insurance carrier. Call them to see if they offer phone, mobile app or online video consultation.
March 23, 2020: Economic Relief Fund
The United Way has a Covid-19 Community Economic Relief Fund to help with food, bills, rent, etc. Call 1(800)-211-9966 and provide your zip code. You will be given a list of agencies that can assist you with accessing these resources.
March 20, 2020: Closing of Administrative Offices
In addition to the previous closings of our day program sites, as of Monday, March 23, 2020, we are also closing our main campus and admininstrative offices. On Tuesday, March 24th, and Tuesday, March 31, the administrative office will be open from 8-12pm only. If you need assistance, especially with picking up medications, please call us at (413)592-6142 to make arrangements. We will continue to update this webpage as more information becomes available.
March 18, 2020: Resources from DDS
Below are links to resources in both English and Spanish on COVID -19 for individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities.
March 17, 2020: Updated Administrative Services Office Hours
Administrative Services will be open Wednesday (March 18th) and Thursday (March 19th) from 8:00am to 2:00pm. Then administrative services will be open reduced hours from 8:00am to 12:00pm starting Friday (March 20th) to Friday (April 3rd.) We hope to re-open on Monday, April 6th.
March 16, 2020: Notice to Participants and Families/Guardians
In an effort to keep our participants and staff safe and healthy during the Covid-19 Emergency,
Sunshine Village will be closed March 17th-April 5th
We will continue to update you on:
- Our website: sunshine.us
- WWLP – Channel 22
If you need to pick up medication, program sites will be open from 8am-12pm on March 17th and March 18th. Please call (413)592-6142 with any questions.
March 15, 2020: Update on Attendance Policies
March 14, 2020: Sunshine Village’s Response To-date
- We have assessed our mechanisms for COMMUNICATION and began disseminating information to all stakeholders – including participants/families, funding sources, board members, employees, vendors, community partners and provider agencies – through personal communication and in written form through mail, e-mail and through the agency’s website. We have updated our voice mail system to direct people to the website for updates. The website – www.sunshine.us – has been updated to include an area specific to viewing information on the Coronavirus.
- We enhanced our CLEANING and SANITATION procedures and assessed our health and maintenance SUPPLIES. Although we have been unable to restock masks and hand sanitizer, we have plenty of hand soap and bleach on hand and are expecting a shipment of disinfectant to be delivered on March 16, 2020.
- We have begun providing additional, repetitive TRAINING to staff and participants on proper hand washing and coughing techniques. We posted informational flyers at all sites. We have postponed employee training that is held in a group setting or requires close contact. Training through the organization’s E-Academy system continues. Attendance at trainings held off-site will be assessed on a case by case basis.
- We have RESTRICTED VISITOR ACCESS to all sites. This has included community partners and vendors and we are not hosting ISP meetings and other meetings. Exceptions are being made on an as needed basis, including for interviews. Attendance by employees at meetings held at off-site locations will be assessed on a case by case basis. We have posted signs on entrances to all sites.
- We have limited volunteer efforts and community access for participants and employees – particularly with organizations who serve seniors and locations that host large groups of people.
- Sunshine Village has planned how it will continue our commercial cleaning operations at Westover Air Reserve Base throughout this crisis and we are working with our business partners for operations at VillageWorks. We have also started talking with employers of participants.
- We have provided our EMPLOYEES with information about our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and the national Disaster Distress Helpline (1-800-985-5990) for emotional support and have amended our sick time policy until March 31, 2020 for use of paid/unpaid time to allow staff to stay out of work if they are sick. We have also provided employees with information about Teledoc – where they can access medical care without going to the hospital or doctor’s office.
- We have communicated with our TRANSPORTATION providers who contract through MART and our own drivers for Sunshine Village transportation that – upon the recommendation of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health – they are not to let people who are exhibiting symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat) to enter their vehicles.
- We have communicated with RESIDENTIAL PROVIDERS and PARTICIPANTS/FAMILIES that we – upon the recommendation from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health – we will begin screening individuals – including participants and employees – before entering the program – and sending anyone home who we deem to be sick.
- We have updated our EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS PLAN and shared our efforts with the Department of Developmental Services.
The conditions for the coronavirus outbreak are rapidly changing and Sunshine Village is monitoring the situation closely and working continuously to address and support our COVID-19 preparedness efforts. We will provide updates as recommendations or requirements are made by federal, state and local governing agencies and as decisions are made by Sunshine Village to protect the people we support and employ as well as the community we serve.
March 13, 2020: Update Regarding Screening Before Entering Day Programs
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is requiring community day programs – like Sunshine Village – to screen individuals before they enter day programs. If a participant is exhibiting any of the conditions below, they will need to be picked up by their residential provider or a family member within one hour:
- Sick with fever (higher than 100.3 degrees F)
- Newly developed respiratory illness such as a cough, shortness of breath or sore throat
We are also screening employees, vendors and guests. We have implemented a restriction on visitors and have very limited access to who can enter our buildings.
THANK YOU for your support as we work together to keep everyone safe and healthy.
March 12, 2020: In an effort to reduce the risks of Covid-19/Coronavirus, we are limiting visitors to all of our sites, including ISP’s, tours, meetings, trainings, and events. Interviews will be conducted on a case-by-case basis. Please call with any questions (413)592-6142.
March 11, 2020: Executive Director’s Letter to Families and Guardians
Dear Family Members and Guardians,
Governor Baker has called a state of emergency in Massachusetts to help government offices, schools and organizations respond to the growing concerns around the potential spread of Covid-19/Coronavirus. Sunshine Village is keeping up-to-date with all information as the situation unfolds and; most importantly, responding quickly to keep the individuals we serve and our staff as safe and healthy as possible.
No one knows how long or how extensive the spread of the virus will be, but we are closely monitoring the state and federal recommendations. With weather-related emergencies, we have had to close our programs and this current communicable disease creates similar challenges. With the current situation we can only control how we react and meet our responsibilities. We will make important decisions such as the possibility of closing program sites only if absolutely necessary. Below is our plan to respond to what we know now and what we can control to keep communication open and lessen the impact on everyone at Sunshine Village.
To date, we started an even more robust cleaning and disinfecting protocol for all of our sites. We have also begun handwashing and coughing instruction and regular reminders. There will be a fun contest to encourage peer-to-peer education on proper techniques and their importance in fighting the spread of germs. We are also utilizing all available hand sanitizing options and encouraging all who are sick to stay home. We are also restricting visitors to our sites and are assessing community access for the individuals we serve. Sunshine Village is committed to providing you with updates as appropriate and will communicate information to you in three ways:
- The most current information, including potential closings, will be updated on our website’s homepage www.sunshine.us
- Email and letter will be used whenever possible for important, but less time sensitive information
- Personal phone calls for individual specific issues and concerns.
We ask that you notify your program site of all planned travel for your loved one, yourself, or for any family or friends that come into contact with your loved one, so that we can give further instructions based on our compliance with state or federal recommendations. We also recommend that you visit the following state website for further information on travel precautions: mass.gov/2019coronavirus
Please contact your program manager or case manager at (413)592-6142 with any questions or concerns. Thank you for your support as we respond to this ongoing situation.
CC: Department of Developmental Services
Please adhere to Sunshine Village’s policy on remaining at home with a fever. To lessen the risk of becoming infected with COVID-19, we encourage you to abide by these CDC guidelines:
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick