Healing Transitions’ leadership staff, along with Dr. Bob Bilbro, the volunteer medical director of our health clinics, is coordinating with North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services to help manage the care of our licensed detox beds. We’re also coordinating with Wake County’s Public Health Branch of the Emergency Operations Center to provide support for the emergency shelter and recovery programs. Additionally, Dr. Lisa Montague, another volunteer physician, briefed participants at our men’s and women’s campuses about the best ways to reduce the risk of infection.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve closely followed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Wake County’s guidelines on responding to the pandemic. This includes enhanced hygiene protocols for staff and participants. We implemented a health and safety checklist for all visitors arriving on campus, including questions about the individual’s symptoms, recent places of travel, and contact with those who have been diagnosed or suspected to have COVID-19 in the past 14 days that have helped our staff determine whether or not that individual would be able to remain on campus.
We also began educating staff and participants about COVID-19 testing. Our detox centers are licensed by the Department of Health and Human Services who provided webinars and other training resources for our staff to help them remain up-to-date on the pandemic and how best to respond. Multiple flyers were posted at each of our campuses clearly detailing current program procedures as it pertains to the COVID-19 response for our participants to reference.
Under the guidance of the Wake County Public Health Branch of the Emergency Operations Center, Healing Transitions will continue practicing social distancing, require hand washing throughout its campuses, provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to staff members as needed, and quickly quarantine individuals who have exhibited any symptoms, been tested or have received a positive COVID-19 test result to prevent further spread of the virus.
In addition, under the guidance of the Wake County Public Health Branch of the Emergency Operations Center, Healing Transitions put in place extra precautions to increase social distancing to the best of our ability. These precautions include:
- Increasing screening for participants and staff, including regular temperature checks throughout the day, daily symptom screenings, and questions about daily activities in the community
- Daily symptom and temperature checks for all participants and those entering campuses.
- Handing out food and silverware directly to individuals
- Rearranging how participants sleep
- Screening all staff every day before they enter the workplace
- Providing all staff with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to use if they are on campus and interacting with program participants
- To guard against exposure to detox guests, all of their meals will occur in detox, as well as recovery activities.
- Advising all staff to immediately shower and wash clothing after returning home from work.
Under the guidance of the Wake County Public Health Branch of the Emergency Operations Center, Healing Transitions is encouraging anyone who meets these criteria to reach out to their primary healthcare provider or contact the Wake County COVID-19 Emergency Hotline (919-856-7044):
- has visited a Healing Transitions campus since November 1st; and
- were in direct contact (within 6 feet, for more than 15 minutes, without a mask) with a participant
We are currently creating a list of anyone who has been in direct contact with the participants who have tested positive for COVID-19. In guidance with the Wake County Public Health Department, and in accordance with guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), direct contact includes being within 6 feet, for 15 minutes, without a mask of a participant who tested positive for COVID-19. Once the list is completed, it will be shared with the Wake County Public Health Department to assess the risk factors and alert individuals about their possible risk for the virus.
Healing Transitions has been exploring different channels for participants at both campuses to stay connected with the recovery community. Schedules for online recovery meetings are posted at each campus and participants are provided access to the technology they need to access those meetings. We are also increasing phone access at each campus so participants can stay connected with their mentors and networks.
Under the guidance of the Wake County Public Health Branch of the Emergency Operations Center, participants are still allowed to leave campus as long as they are not showing symptoms for COVID-19. However, if an individual wants or needs to leave campus, they must first speak with a staff member to determine if they actually need to leave property or if the situation can be solved on campus (i.e. getting a prescription picked up for them or providing them with items from our toiletry closet instead of sending them to the store).
Upon return to property, each participant will be screened as recommended by the Wake County Public Health Branch of the Emergency Operations Center and in accordance with guidelines from the CDC.
Thanks to the support of WakeMed, Healing Transitions has also been using RelyMD (since 2019) as a way for participants to continue to have their health concerns addressed, while trying to minimize unnecessary visits to the emergency department. Systems are being put in place to create similar telemedicine options for participants receiving mental health services without leaving campus. We are also working with local pharmacies to ensure participants are receiving their regular prescriptions as needed without disruption.
Healing Transitions is working hard to ensure no employee experiences financial hardship due to unemployment, whether they are out due to precautionary measures or because they were exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
We currently have over 60 staff across both of our campuses. Staff who are able to work remotely will continue to do so. We have approximately 25 staff who will continue to work on campus to support our recovery participants and overnight guests.
For those staff members who come into work:
- Any staff member who comes into work will have their temperature taken and will be screened for other symptoms.
- All staff will be provided with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to use if they are on campus and interacting with program participants.
- After staff members return home from work, they are to immediately shower and wash their clothes to help prevent the spread of the virus.
Since we don’t have the option of closing, we are deeply indebted to all of the employees who are working to serve our guests and participants. We are committed to making sure that none of our employees experience financial hardship during this time by working with our Board of Directors to create a plan that will allow employees to still receive a paycheck if they are out of work due to COVID-19 related reasons.
Financial donations are more important now than ever. We continue to operate over-capacity every day, serving more individuals than we ever have in our nearly 20-year history.
We have also seen a shortage of in-kind food donations due to increased demand from the community. This has caused us to order and pay for food that was not included in our budget. Additionally, with more participants remaining on campus, we now have more individuals to feed.
Here are three ways you can get involved today:
- Financial: You can support Healing Transitions work financially by visiting healing-transitions.org/donate. $25 provides meals for 10 participants. $100 provides meals for 40 participants, and $500 provides 200 meals! Thank you for your generosity!
- Donations: Donations are still being accepted at both campuses. At the men’s campus, people may leave donations at the screening tent at the front entrance. At the women’s campus, people may leave donations in the donation bin outside of the front entrance. If someone makes a donation and would like a receipt, please email Enterprise Coordinator, Terri Edwards – firstname.lastname@example.org – about what was donated, and she will email you a receipt. Specific needs currently include Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), individually wrapped snacks, staple pantry items, water, and other items.
- Friendship: Help us send encouraging notes to our staff and participants who are experiencing higher than normal levels of stress. A simple note to let someone know they’re cared for goes a long way. You can mail your letters to 1251 Goode Street | Raleigh, NC 27603 to the attention of: Staff Support or send us an email to email@example.com, and we will print and share them with our staff and participants directly. (Recent statements by the World Health Organization and USPS have said there is no concern about the virus spreading through mail systems).
For more up-to-date information about Coronavirus and the public health response, please visit the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and North Carolina’s Department of Public Health.
For any questions you may have about Wake County’s COVID-19 response, you may call the Wake County COVID-19 Emergency Hotline: (919- 856-7044)