Personal Protective Equipment for Personal Support Workers

As of April 27th, 2020, the Oregon Department of Human Services announced access to additional Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for Personal Support Workers. Here is the new process for PSWs to obtain gloves and masks:

Personal Support Workers should submit a request to the Oregon Home Care Commission by completing an electronic form via SEIU’s website https://seiu503.tfaforms.net/622 or by emailing OHCC.CustomerRelations@dhsoha.state.or.us.

If you are sending an email request, you must include all of the following:

  • First and Last Name
  • Provider Number
  • Provider Type (Personal Support Worker)
  • Name of Case Management Entity (Independence Northwest Brokerage)
  • Number of customers you support in a week
  • Number of hours worked per pay period per customer (this is what they will use to determine how many gloves or masks they will provide you)
  • Type of PPE requested (masks or gloves)
  • Whether you would prefer to have the PPE mailed or if you would like to pick it up

Once you complete the process, the OHCC will notify you of available pick up times and locations or how the materials will be sent.

Read the full transmittal by clicking here.

From all of us at Independence Northwest, we’d like to thank you for the essential services you are providing our community at this time.

If you have any questions, please contact the Personal Agent(s) you work with at INW by calling 503-546-2950.

If You Get Sick, What Do Nurses and Doctors Need to Know to Communicate Best With You?

By Larry Deal, Executive Director

A little over a week ago, my father was hospitalized and put on a ventilator. Because of the COVID-19 outbreak, medics were unable to honor his choice of hospitals in South Florida and for ten days no outside visitors have been allowed into the hospital to see him.

My family’s story is just one of many playing out across the world as more and more people are hospitalized due to the COVID-19 outbreak. In many areas, hospitals aren’t allowing visitors to stay with adults who are admitted, due to an abundance of caution over the spread of virus. The decision makes good sense from a public health perspective – we all must understand the essential role we play in limiting potential spread – but it’s a pretty difficult experience when a loved one is ill and needs care. While my father’s health situation isn’t related to the virus, his care is being affected significantly by the pandemic.

Nothing is more essential than being able to communicate your needs in the midst of a crisis. If you or someone you care for were to need to communicate wants and needs without familiar supports in place, now is the time to create a backup communication plan. My sisters and I completed a Health Passport to have at our father’s side in this moment  and we encourage you to do consider doing the same. These documents have the power to humanize and illuminate those we care about and to express personal preferences in moments when those things can make all the difference.

As you continue to refine your safety plans during this heightened period, please consider including a communication document of some sort. Fill one out, keep it somewhere safe, and if you must seek medical attention, make sure it’s updated and at your side in case your usual supports aren’t. Oregon hospitals are doing what they can to honor choices in support and we recommend checking in with local hospitals to determine policies in your area.  Check out the communication resources we have pulled together in partnership with speech pathologist and INW board member, Corinne Thomas-Kersting. Huge thanks to her for this support.

If you have additional resources you’d like shared with INW’s customers, families, and networks, please send me a note at larry@independencenw.org. Thanks so much. I hope that you and your families are safe and well. If there’s anything at all we can do to support you, please reach out. We’re here.

Please visit www.independencenw.org/communication to find a healthcare passport for you or your family.

Essential Resources:

Stay connected by following us on Facebook or visiting us at www.independencenw.org/
If you know someone who should be added to our mailing list, please have them sign up here we’ll be sure to share information with them as well.

Curbside Rapid COVID-19 Testing Now Available

Curbside Rapid COVID-19 testing is now available.

Click here for full details.

How It Works

1. Schedule a Virtual Visit with a provider
If clinically appropriate based on CDC and state guidelines, our provider will schedule you for an in-person rapid COVID-19 test at one of our centers.

2. Follow instructions for your scheduled curbside appointment
Park in the designated area and wait for a provider to come to you for a swab test.

3. Receive your results in approximately 15 minutes
If your test results are positive, your provider will discuss next steps for care.

Priority will be given to exposed front-line medical personnel and other responders like firefighters and police.

What is the Rapid COVID-19 Test?

The Abbott rapid COVID-19 test was recently authorized by the FDA under an emergency use authorization in healthcare settings (although it has not been FDA cleared or approved). The rapid COVID-19 test provides results within approximately 15 minutes.
The test starts with taking a swab from the nose or the back of the throat, then mixing it with a chemical solution that breaks open the virus and releases its RNA.

Using the molecular technology from the Abbott ID NOW system, the mixture is inserted into an ID NOW box that has the technology to identify and amplify select sequences of the coronavirus genome and ignore contamination with other viruses.

Our team is well-equipped and well-trained for this method of testing, having already used Abbott’s ID NOW testing platform to perform rapid tests for flu and strep testing.

March 17, 2020: Important Coronavirus Notice from Oregon DHS for Customers and Families

March 17, 2020
From: Oregon Department of Human Services
To: People living in their own homes or family homes, Children in foster care homes, and Family members of people with intellectual or developmental disabilities (I/DD) living in these settings; and Child Foster Home providers serving children with I/DD

COVID-19 is the illness caused by the novel coronavirus. COVID-19 is a virus that makes people feel unwell. People with other health issues are most at-risk if they get this virus. COVID-19 is spread from person-to-person through droplets in the air and on surfaces that people touch. To protect the health and safety of people and their families, the Office of Developmental Disabilities Services (ODDS) is providing the following guidance.

Help stop COVID-19 by knowing the signs and symptoms

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

How to protect yourself and others.

Practice good hygiene

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after
    you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60%
    alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the
    inside of your elbow. Throw used tissues in the trash.
  • Immediately follow the “practice good hygiene” steps above.
  • Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables,
    doorknobs, light switches, counter tops, handles, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
  • Clean dirty surfaces: Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
  • Wash items including washable plush toys as appropriate. If possible, wash items
    using the warmest appropriate water setting for the items and dry items completely.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick or have symptoms of COVID-19.
  •  Put at least 6 feet of space between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is
    spreading in your community. This is especially important for people who are at
    higher risk.
  • Choose a room in your home that can be used to separate sick household members
    from those who are healthy. Identify a separate bathroom for the sick person to use,
    if possible. Plan to clean these rooms, as needed, when someone is sick.
  • Avoid gatherings and activities in the community when possible.

Take precautions for visitors

  • Prior to accepting a visitor into the home, screen the visitor for signs and
    symptoms of COVID-19 by asking the visitor the following questions:

    • Have you had signs or symptoms of a respiratory infection, such as fever,
      cough, shortness of breath, or sore throat?
    • Have you had contact in the last 14 days with someone with a confirmed
      diagnosis of COVID-19, or under investigation for COVID-19?
    • Have you traveled internationally within the last 14 days?
  • • If you have concerns about a visitor being ill, you can decide to restrict the visitor
    from entering the home. Consider alternative methods to visit, such as phone or
    video chat.
    • If you choose to allow visitors, provide guidance on protecting themselves and
    others by practicing proper hand washing, limiting surfaces touched, and
    maintaining a safe distance from other household members.

Working with your staff (i.e., Personal Support Worker, Direct Support Professional, or
alternate caregivers)

  • Discuss together how staff can support the you in implementing the steps listed
    above to remain healthy and safe.
  •  Individuals, families, and child foster home providers should expect staff to follow
    good hygiene guidelines and preventive measures to reduce the spread of illness

Back-up Planning & Working with the Case Manager

COVID-19 Resources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Guidance
ODDS COVID-19 Information
ODDS COVID-19 YouTube Video

Important Notice About Independence Northwest Operations During Coronavirus Pandemic

UPDATED 06.07.2020

Following several days of consideration and deliberations on the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, we decided on March 12th, 2020 to close our physical office in NE Portland. While counties throughout the state begin re-opening, we are continuing with a commitment to a remote approach for the safety of our customers, families, providers, and our team members. At this point, remote work will continue until at least August 1st, 2020.

Rest assured, Independence Northwest will continue operating as a fully responsive and engaged brokerage case management entity – we’ll just be approaching things a little differently.

The coronavirus situation is very serious and we have a public responsibility to do whatever we can to prevent and reduce the spread of the virus. The practice of social distancing has the potential to reduce virus spread and increase our ability to remain responsive in the days and weeks to come.

The majority of the INW team will serve customers, families, and providers through use of remote technology like laptops and cell phones. A small skeleton crew will maintain intermittent work at our office, managing physical information like mail and faxes.

INW Personal Agents and administrative staff will be available by both phone and email during regular business hours and essential in-person meetings will still take place at our office as needed. We will continue to reach out very regularly to customers and their circles of support to check in on services, develop plans, assess support needs, discuss emergency planning, provide coronavirus information and resources, and review and update backup planning.

Should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the Personal Agent(s) you work with or any of us here at Independence Northwest. You can find contact information and phone extensions for our entire team here.

Please note: When a member of our team is ill or unable to respond due to planned time off, we’ll make sure there’s someone available to assist you during regular business hours. Outgoing voicemail messages will state who is providing coverage and how to contact them. If you send an email to a team member who is unavailable, you can expect to receive an out of office email reply letting you know who to contact in their absence.

In the meantime, please protect yourself and those around you by washing your hands, disinfecting commonly used areas in your home and workplace, and staying home. Let’s take care of one another during this difficult time. When we take care of our own health, we’re taking care of the well being of those around us.

Essential Resources:

Stay connected by following us on Facebook or visiting us at www.independencenw.org/

If you know someone who should be added to our mailing list, please have them sign up here we’ll be sure to share information with them as well.