March 12, 2020

OAESV Response to Preparing for COVID-19 Contingencies

Rosa Beltré, Executive Director of OAESV

Good afternoon everyone!

I am grateful for the strong leadership in Ohio, that are ensuring we are informed and that they are taking this serious.

Recognizing that we are being bombarded with information constantly, that there are new bans just issued for the state, that the Executive order has been to close all schools Monday, prolonging the break until April 3rd; there continues to be an aura of panic. We can’t control the protocols that are being developed, the overwhelming amount of news we are receiving, how fluid and new this all is; what we can do is control the way that we react.

Our staff, community partners, our boards, survivors and communities we serve as a whole, are relying on us for guidance and solutions. To panic, even though a very normal reaction, will not effectively allow us to lead our non-profit organizations, support our staff and survivors within our communities.

While we are dealing with much unknown, we suggest you have conversations with folks in your organization and plan as much as you are able to.

Following official guidance and protocols:

As of today, OAESV in-person trainings and in-person scheduled meetings have been cancelled. We will send new rescheduled dates very soon. Some of our trainings/meetings will be in a webinar format.

While decisions have been made, always with the best intent to keep us all safe and to contain the spread of the virus, we have to recognize that the most vulnerable and marginalized communities will continue to be impacted by these decisions. Many of our staff members are parents, grandparents, care providers; they will be worried and also affected by school closings, and who will take care of their loved ones.  For many parents, sending their children to schools helps them save money on very expensive daycare, as well as guarantees that atleaset there is a secure meal provided. Many children, also see school as the only safe place they have to be at and away from their abusive homes and dysfunctional family lives.

We have much to consider as a community of practice, coming together in moments of practice with a trauma-informed lens. Now would be a great time to review our telecommute policies and abilities to have people work remotely.

I have received many questions related to service provision; this too may be the time to consider your capacity to provide services using alternative methods.

Every community is different. Ohio has 88 very unique counties, but know that they are asking us all to come together as one, knowing that crisis response is our area of expertise. In all the statewide calls I have been participating in, I have conveyed that this is not a problem.

Each hospital and its networks will have individual protocols in order to keep their impact at a minimum. Those that have patients that have been exposed or tested positive, might have activated a “no visit” policy and assess exactly what that means for hospital advocacy. That is why we recommend that each agency works with their local hospital and SANE departments directly.

  • Advocates should not be considered volunteers. They are first responders, especially for survivors of rape.
  • Programs should make arrangements for their hotlines to remain open and active 24/7.

It is hard to anticipate how restricted we may need to be regarding in-person contact.  I know that balancing the needs of your staff as well as service recipients can be a challenge. Right now we are asking you to plan, consider what you can do, and of course keep your health and safety at the forefront.

Information from the CDC can be found here https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/summary.html#risk-assessment.  

Below is information identifying some sections that pertain to all workplaces. See below.

Source: World Health Organization (WHO)

Date Published: 2/26/2020

Annotation: This five-page document describes how businesses and employers can play a role in stopping the spread of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus). It lists simple ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace; things to consider when employers and employees travel; and getting a business ready in case COVID-19 arrives in the community.

At this point we ask that you please use your best judgement when determining if folks should provide accompaniment services to individuals. If folks have colds, history of respiratory illnesses, compromised immune systems, or other health issues, they may not be the best candidate for providing accompaniment to the hospital. It makes sense to take precautions. Below are some resources including fact sheets that have been provided to Health Care Providers. DOH is working with federal and local public health officials to closely monitor the situation. We encourage you to visit the DOH website regularly for updates. We are in communication with state agencies and will keep you up to date as we have new information.

Prevention:

  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your face when possible and wash your hands if you do touch your face.
  • It is okay to wear a mask as long as it does not increase touching your face.
  • Clean surfaces frequently, including countertops, light switches, cell phones, remote controls, and other frequently touched items.
  • If you are sick, stay home until you are feeling better.

Additional Resources:

CDC Info for Health Care Providers- https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/caring-for-patients.html

CDC FAQs for Health Care Providers- https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/faq.html

CDC basic information on Coronavirus- https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/index.html

DOH fact sheet for Health care facility employees- https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/Documents/Diseases%20and%20Conditions/Coronavirus%20Healthcare%20Facility%20Employees.pdf

DOH fact sheet- https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/Documents/Diseases%20and%20Conditions/Coronavirus.pdf

DOH website: https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/Pages/Coronavirus.aspx 

ODH: https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19/

Although, functions of being a direct services provider requires hospital accompaniment be provided to people who have been sexual assaulted,  we recognize that your community may be experiencing unique risk factors related to COVID19.  If you are considering limiting the services provided at a medical facility in your area, before doing this, submit a plan for pro-actively connecting (not placing the expectation for initial connection on the survivor) with victims of sexual assault who receive services at the facility.

Feel free to reach out to me or OAESV staff, as we all navigate this process together.

In community,

Rosa Beltré  (she/her/hers)

Executive Director, Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence

Escape