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New Hope makes over 500 masks

Going the extra mile for the ones they support

Joseph Abraham - Co-editor
Posted 4/16/20

LOCH SHELDRAKE -- Spread across Conference Room 605 inside New Hope Community's main building in Loch Sheldrake are sewing machines and other materials brought in by the staff from home for one …

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New Hope makes over 500 masks

Going the extra mile for the ones they support

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LOCH SHELDRAKE -- Spread across Conference Room 605 inside New Hope Community's main building in Loch Sheldrake are sewing machines and other materials brought in by the staff from home for one purpose.

For the past six weeks, a mix of nurses, training and development staff and residential coordinators have set up shop, working 80 hours a week (collectively) to produce masks for their peers and the people they support.

The teamwork and collaboration of at least 10 people, have produced over 500 masks!

According to New Hope's Director of Health Services Karen Kerendian, they've supplied masks to every home in an attempt to supplement their PPE stock so they don't have to use the medical masks if they don't have to.

She adds that in order to get the people they support interested in wearing a mask, they've been trying to make them fun and cool by using superhero themes or camouflage.

“We've had a lot of support from our administration,” said Kerendian, noting that CEO Debra J. McGinness baked them cookies, and President Bhakar Singh helped them cut cloth for masks.

“I think by all the departments working together, we've looked at things much differently. We've really come together in a way we might not have if we didn't work together on this project.”

The mask making team is now turning their attention to producing face shields, while continuing the mask effort by donating to local businesses and other essential personnel in need of cloth masks.

Other initiatives

As a no visitor policy has been put in place, New Hope staff is utilizing Skype and Facetime to keep families connected and provide support and social engagements, as well as for telemedicine.

Each day, the staff within the homes plan activities that are not limited to inside the home.

These include leisure rides, walks around campus, hiking, trail walking - all to provide exercise and fresh air.

They've also increased training on cleaning protocols and product use, and practicing beyond Universal Precautions.

Eighty of New Hope's day habilitation staff have been reassigned to provide support at their 41 residential sites, acclimating to a new environment and creatively finding new and engaging ways to support people within their home settings, jumping in, to uphold the ongoing rhythm of residential life. They note that their staff members have been extremely flexible, offering to work different shifts to assist their colleagues who may be trying to manage personal circumstances (i.e., children home from school, day care concerns, family obligations).

New Hope's staff has also shown their ability to think outside the box,

coordinating activities like spa days, sock puppets and Easter decorating to name a few. Also, their Art Coordinator sends out daily emails with creative activities and project ideas.

New Hope's traditional Seder dinner that is typically held in their main building couldn't occur this year. But they still found a way to come together last week.

Recipes have been shared and one of their house managers, Brina Cohen, virtually hosted (via Skype) a sacred start of Passover, and there was an opportunity for the people New Hope supports to listen and sing along to live music.

Also, through the generosity of the NHC Foundation, all 41 homes received a pizza dinner and a week later, a bagel breakfast delivery. In addition, Board chairs and others are penning heartfelt letters of encouragement to staff to lift their spirits and continuously remind them that they are our heroes.

When reflecting on the work of her staff, McGinness offered high praise.

“With so much uncertainty around us, there are things that are very clear to me: NHC staff is amazing,” she said. “I am so thankful and proud of all of our staff. To our DSP's who are continuing to provide services and keep things as normal as possible; to our nurses, who are keeping us informed and maintaining a healthy environment; to our maintenance and cleaning crews who are constantly sanitizing and maintaining environmental controls. And our Finance department, who makes sure business is running, and our clinical staff who are mindful of our mental wellness. Each and every person is SO important. The safety and well-being of people we support and our employees remain our highest priority, as the potential for community spread of the Coronavirus continues.”

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