6/12/2020 COVID-19 & Service Update: We hope you and your loved ones are well and staying safe. Our temporary closure of non-essential services has been in place since March 18th. Very recently, MN Department of Human Services (MN DHS) issued new guidance on allowing limited capacity services to start, including community employment services, remote services, and in-center licensed services (very limited scope). MN DHS requires a specific and enhanced COVID-19 Preparedness Plan in order to provide these services, which you can find on this site. We are gradually resuming a narrow range of services to a limited number of program participants beginning 6/15/20, in order to best ensure and promote the safety and health of everyone while we all get used to practicing new safety protocols and habits. After nearly three months, we look forward to welcoming back program participants and support team members in our careful and gradual ramp-up of services.
We continue to monitor and use fact-based and up-to-date information and recommendations from public health officials, MN Department of Health, MN Department of Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and others. Our COVID-19 Preparedness Plan is a dynamic document, and will be updated regularly to reflect newly learned information and changes in best practices.
To all of you, please stay safe and healthy.
Below is our latest COVID-19 Program Preparedness Plan
PHASE-Industries COVID-19 Program Preparedness Plan
Written April 2020/ Revised June 2020
PHASE-Industries is committed to providing a safe and healthy program and workplace for our program participants and staff. To ensure that, we have developed the following Preparedness Plan in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. This Plan is designed to be a dynamic document, meaning that it will be updated and modified as new information and “best practices” emerge specific to COVID-19. Managers and staff members are all responsible for implementing and monitoring this plan. Our goal is to mitigate the potential for transmission of Covid-19 in our workplaces, and that requires full cooperation among staff and management. Only through this cooperative effort can we establish and maintain the safety and health of our workforce and workplaces.
COVID-19 is a new and highly infectious respiratory disease, which began spreading in the U.S. in early 2020. This plan outlines new policies and procedures for both workforce and program participants to minimize exposure risks, promptly identify COVID-19 symptoms, and safely respond when exposure/infection is suspected. As more information is learned about COVID-19, this Plan will incorporate this new information, as applicable. This Plan is posted at each PHASE-Industries licensed site, and is available on our webpage (www.pinehab.org). Please look for any updates to the Plan at either of these locations.
Our Preparedness Plan follows Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) guidelines and federal OSHA standards related to Covid-19 and addresses:
A copy of this COVID-19 Preparedness Plan will be offered to each person receiving services, their legal representative, if any, and their case manager.
This COVID-19 Preparedness Plan will be available to the Commissioner upon request.
This Action and Prevention Plan supplements the existing PHASE-Industries policies and procedures .
The outbreak of a respiratory disease caused by a new (novel) coronavirus that was first detected in China and has now been detected across the globe, including in the United States. The virus has been named “SARS-CoV-2” and the disease it causes has been named “Coronavirus Disease 2019” (abbreviated “COVID-19”).
On January 30, 2020, the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern.” On January 31, 2020, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex M. Azar II declared a public health emergency for the United States to aid the nation’s health care community in responding to COVID-19.
On March 11, the WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic as the number of infected countries grew.
On March 27, Governor Walz “Stay-at-Home” Order began, in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Minnesota. The Stay-at-Home order expired on May 18, with the gradual re-opening of non-essential businesses and community activities. Further restrictions were lifted on June 1. However, MN DHS continued to maintain significant restrictions and limitations on re-opening of day & employment services.
Pursuant to Emergency Executive Order 20-55, “at-risk persons are strongly urged to stay at home or in their place of residence except to engage in necessary activities for health and wellbeing…” At-risk persons are defined in paragraph 2 of the Order as follows: Consistent with guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”), “at-risk persons” include people who are:
The Commissioner is temporarily modifying Minnesota Statutes, section 245D.04, subdivision 2 pertaining to a person’s service-related rights by adding a new clause:
A person's service-related rights include the right to: . . .
(10) make an informed choice about whether to receive day services in the licensed facility/community or to “stay-at-home” and receive no day services or receive services remotely during the peacetime emergency to minimize their exposure to COVID-19. This right exists even if the person does not meet the definition of an “at-risk person” under Emergency Executive Order 20-55, paragraph 2.
PHASE-Industries will resume services at such date when all revised guidelines set forth by the Commissioner dated June 1, 2020 can be implemented and PHASE-Industries program participants can be served in a safe manner. These modifications to PHASE-Industries services include:
All PHASE-Industries staff will be trained on all current COVID-19 Preparedness and related Policies and Procedures during orientation, prior to re-opening licensed sites, and as needed thereafter.
According to the temporarily modified Minnesota Statutes, section 245D.29 , PHASE-Industries will adhere to the following guidelines:
The staff shall ensure a supervisor is immediately notified when an individual exhibits COVID-19 symptoms, or has been potentially exposed, and the supervisor will communicate with legal representatives, case managers, and residential providers when service recipients have been potentially exposed.
PHASE-Industries licensed facilities and vehicles will remain closed to all non-essential visitors and volunteers. All visitors (e.g., deliveries) and volunteers will be directed via signage at the building’s entrance to call (or ring doorbell) prior to entering. Items that need to be dropped off for a program participant can be left at the building’s designated “no-contact” drop-off location at building entrance. People arriving to pick up program participants must use doorbell or call building prior to entrance, and will be directed where to pick up the program participant.
The following are the procedures and precautionary measures that will be implemented in the work location to mitigate the transmission of Covid-19 to all personnel.
All areas of each facility and PHASE-Industries vehicles (in use) will be thoroughly cleaned at least daily or as often as required in other areas of this policy, licensing requirements, and recommendations by CDC. All individuals will be required to participate in cleaning and sanitizing common areas.
Current cleaning, disinfecting, and ventilation guidelines as set forth by the CDC will be followed. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/disinfecting-building-facility.html
The Transportation and Maintenance Manager shall use MN OSHA and MN DOLI guidelines (https://mn.gov/deed/assets/general-industry-guidance-ACC_tcm1045-432880.pdf) to inspect and upgrade, as needed, facility and vehicle ventilation filters and systems (See Exhibit B for guidelines)
The internal reporting procedure requires the following PHASE-Industries leadership to be immediately notified:
Assigned Supervisor (DC, DM, Lead)
Chief Operating Officer (COO)
Human Resource Director (HRD)
Air Ventilation Guidelines
Ventilation System Start-up:
Businesses must evaluate the operational capacity, and increase, improve, and maintain ventilation provided throughout the building.
1. Increase the outdoor air-percentage to increase dilution of contaminants, and eliminate recirculating, whenever possible, while maintaining indoor air-conditions.
2. For heating-ventilation-air-conditioning systems that recirculate air, businesses need to improve centralair filtration to at least the MERV-13 or the highest compatible with the filter rack (at least MERV-14 3 GENERAL INDUSTRY GUIDANCE | Minnesota Employer Preparedness Plan Requirements Checklist preferred), and seal the edges of filters to further limit by-pass around the filters.
3. Replace and upgrade air filters prior to re-occupancy.
4. Run systems on full economizer as outside airconditions allow.
5. Consult an HVAC professional to ensure proper ventilation is maintained.
Once systems are in a safe operational status, businesses should ensure the following practices and protocols are maintained:
1. Continuously maximize fresh-air into the workplace, and eliminate air recirculation.
2. Maintain relative humidity levels of RH 40-60%
3. Keep systems running longer hours (24/7 if possible) to enhance the ability to filter contaminants out of the air.
4. Add a flush cycle to the controls of the HVAC system, and run HVAC systems for 2-hours before and after occupancy.
5. Check and rebalance the HVAC system to provide negative air-pressure whenever possible.
6. Supplement ventilation-system with the use of portable HEPA filter units whenever possible.
7. Minimize air-flow from blowing across people. 8. Consult an HVAC professional or the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers to ensure proper ventilation is provided, and ventilation-systems are properly maintained. See ASHRAE’s COVID-19 Preparedness Resources (www. ashrae.org/technical-resources/resources).
Cleaning & Disinfectant Protocols
5/29/2020 COVID-19 Update: We hope you and your loved ones are well and staying safe. Our temporary closure of program participant day & employment services provided in our licensed facilities continues, per the order issued by the Minnesota Department of Human Services (please see the order below). We are working with and awaiting specific guidance from the Minnesota Department of Human Services for a reopening timeline and enhanced safety protocol requirements.
We continue to provide essential services, and will begin providing additional employment supports at community businesses (as they begin to open up) and other community jobs (not located within a licensed site). Further, we are developing virtual learning and remote support curriculum, which will become available by mid-June.
Our primary commitment is ensuring the safest support and workplace environments. Not all services will re-open on the same date, and we continue to evaluate the order of service resumption and explore new ways to deliver services creatively and safely. We are monitoring and using fact-based and up-to-date information and recommendations from public health officials, MN Department of Health, MN Department of Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and others.
To our program participants, thank you for your continued patience as we plan for the ramp-up to services. We look forward to, once again supporting and engaging with you so you can thrive in your employment and occupational goals!
To our Team Members, thank you for your patience, as well. Please remember to regularly check your company-issued email for important updates, communications and schedules as we gradually, safely and responsibly implement return-to-service plans. We are especially grateful to our Team Members who have continued working and providing essential services since the beginning of the pandemic!
To all of you, please stay safe and healthy.
Message from MN Department of Human Services 5/20/2020
As I wrote last week, when Governor Walz announced the shift from Stay at Home MN to Stay Safe MN we began to explore the steps necessary to re-open day center services for people with disabilities.
We have been working with the Minnesota Organization for Habilitation and Rehabilitation (MOHR) to develop the strongest guidelines possible to protect the health of employees and people we support. This included hygiene, distancing, masking, screening, operating at 50% capacity, allowing twice the space per person, and creating cohorts of less than 10 people that don’t intermix with other cohorts.
We have also worked with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) to develop appropriate masking strategies for people with disabilities, consider guidance for what to do if someone tests positive for COVID-19, and look at the possibilities of allowing center-based and remote services.
In consultation with MDH, we have identified two important health and safety considerations we have not been able to mitigate in order to open day services for people with disabilities at this time.
The first issue – and the greatest at this time – is the recent number of positive COVID-19 cases in group homes for people with disabilities. After COVID-19 first appeared in nursing and assisted living facilities, some 5% of small congregate care sites like group homes have now also experienced positive COVID-19 cases.
Many of the individuals who use day services live in group homes. While we are trying to slow the spread of COVID-19 in group homes, it would be a mistake to bring people together into day centers every day and send them back to their homes potentially exposed to the virus. This could undermine our mitigation strategies in those residential settings.
Our second issue is the increased risk of COVID-19 when we have more, closer and longer exposures to people who are COVID-19 positive. We are just beginning to understand that another risk factor in contracting COVID-19 is the length of time we are exposed to people who are positive. There is a difference between moving around a grocery store for 20 minutes and sitting in a restaurant for 2 hours. Day services facilities have people interacting with each other for 6 hours a day. If anyone shares a cohort with a COVID-19 positive colleague, their risk of contracting the virus is greater.
So, while I apologize for raising the hopes of our day services providers and staff that we might be able to support their reopening, it is our best judgement, based on the best health advice we have, that it would be too risky to re-open day centers at this time. While we understand the many challenges this creates for you and the people you serve, protecting the health and safety of vulnerable Minnesotans is our first priority.
At the request of the MOHR association, we are looking at allowing day services providers to provide more remote services to residents of group homes. We will communicate more as soon as we can, and we will continue to work with MOHR to explore other solutions to support these important community-based services.
We will continue to assess the situation regularly throughout the pandemic and we’ve agreed to discuss the current situation with MOHR every other week to see what new guidance we can develop to allow you to support Minnesotans with disabilities.
Thank you for who you are for your neighbors in Minnesota.
Jodi Harpstead, Commissioner
Minnesota Department Human Services
IMPORTANT MESSAGE REGARDING COVID-19
5/14/2020 COVID-19 Update: We hope you and your loved ones are well and staying safe. Our temporary closure of program participant day, center-based, group and shared transportation services due to COVID-19 has been extended through the end of May. While the most recent Governor’s Executive Orders allows the gradual reopening of certain non-essential businesses beginning May 18th, the Orders do identify circumstances and conditions where continued precautionary measures are warranted. The Minnesota Department of Human Services has indicated that they will provide specific guidance and direction on the re-opening of day services.
As we continue to modify and test our new COVID-19 Program Preparedness Plans, our primary commitment is ensuring the safest support and workplace environments. Not all services will re-open on the same date, and we continue to evaluate the order of service resumption and explore new ways to deliver services creatively and safely. We are monitoring and using fact-based and up-to-date information and recommendations from public health officials, MN Department of Health, MN Department of Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and others.
To our program participants, thank you for your continued patience as we plan for the ramp-up to services. We look forward to, once again supporting and engaging with you so you can thrive in your employment and occupational goals! One of your Team Members from PHASE-Industries will be in contact with you early next week for your input on safe service delivery options and how we can best plan your support in partnership with you.
To our Team Members not currently working in essential function assignments, thank you for your patience, as well. Please remember to regularly check your company-issued email for important updates, communications and schedules as we gradually, safely and responsibly implement return-to-service plans.
To all of you, please stay safe and healthy.
5/1/2020 COVID-19 Update:
We at PHASE-Industries hope you and your loved ones are well and staying safe. Our temporary closure of non-essential services due to COVID-19 and set to expire on May 4th has been extended through at least May 17th. This is consistent with the Governor’s Executive Order 20-48, extending the Stay at Home Order. We are taking this time to develop and test new COVID-19 protocols, so when we fully re-open, we are able to best ensure the health and safety of all program participants, staff and stakeholders. We are working diligently on creating the safest support environments and procedures in preparation for our ramp-up to services. Not all services will re-open on the same date. We are evaluating daily the order of service resumption, and actively exploring new ways to safely deliver services as we all continue to navigate a world with the presence of COVID-19. We are monitoring and using fact-based and up-to-date information and recommendations from public health officials, MN Department of Health, MN Department of Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among others.
To our program participants, we miss supporting and engaging with you every day, and look forward with hope and optimism to supporting you again soon. To all of you, stay safe and healthy.
IMPORTANT MESSAGE REGARDING COVID-19
COVID-19 Message from PHASE-Industries 4/8/20 Update
4/8/20 Update: PHASE-Industries temporary closure of non-essential services extended through May 3, 2020.
On April 8, 2020, Governor Walz issued Executive Order 20-33, which extended his directive for Minnesotans to Stay at Home through May 3, 2020 (Link to Executive Oder 20-33: https://www.leg.state.mn.us/archive/execorders/20-33.pdf). Consistent with the Governor’s Executive Orders, and recommendations from public health officials on social distancing, PHASE-Industries will continue our temporary closure of all non-essential services through May 3, 2020.
As we navigate through unprecedented times due to COVID-19, we at PHASE-Industries want to keep all of our valued stakeholders current with our response. We are continuously monitoring fact-based information and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), federal & state health and human service agencies, public health officials, and all governmental executive orders.
To our program participants and Team Members not currently receiving PHASE-Industries services or working because of our partial closure of services, know that we miss and think of you every day. We are working hard to prepare for your return to services, supports and employment.
A core group of the PHASE-Industries Team continues to work throughout each day to apply our Mission in action, balancing the protection of health of program participants and team members with the acute needs of those we support and the local communities. While we are not providing the majority of our traditional services, we are working as quickly as possible to offer expanded services in-home upon clearance & direction from the MN Department of Human Services. We also continue to provide essential services, including critical work for medical supply companies, recycling and emergency services for program participant in their home. Lastly, we stand ready and willing to support local healthcare in whatever manner we are able.
If you are a service recipient, family member or guardian and need emergency and/or critical services provided to you in your home, please contact your assigned Designated Manager at PHASE-Industries so we can help plan and support you.
As a Mission-based organization, our obligation is to support our program participants to live, work and thrive in their communities. We best achieve this through a competent, engaged and well-supported team of staff members, especially at the point of service. We are working vigorously to find mechanisms to support team members and program participants through this crisis, as we know at some point, the crisis will conclude. Right now, we are advocating strongly for stopgap funding through the MN Department of Human Services, state legislature and Governor’s Office in order to navigate through the crisis and provide some piece-of-mind for all stakeholders. Further, we have applied for multiple lines of emergency funding, including the newly created Paycheck Protection Program, which if approved, will allow us to reinstate payroll for a period of eight weeks upon distribution of funds.
Please check this website for additional communications and postings as new information becomes available. We will also continue to use our automated phone/text announcement system to communicate key information. We are in this together, and will persevere through it together. Stay safe and healthy.
PHASE empowers Program Participants to live, work and thrive
through the discovery and development of their individual abilities.
PHASE is a private, non-profit corporation, incorporated in 1970 as a 501(c)3 in the state of Minnesota. PHASE primarily serves individuals with a developmental disability, brain injury and/or severe and persistent mental illness. Services focus on employment development, community integration, skill-building, and social, recreational and therapeutic activities. PHASE is a CARF Accredited organization, licensed under MS245D by the Minnesota Department of Human Services. In a given year, PHASE serves close to 500 program participants, and employs approximately 130 staff members.
PHASE is a Home and Community Based Service, meaning that its primary mandate is to ensure access to the community while preventing institutionalization of individuals served. PHASE works to promote the legal and human rights of individuals with disabilities through its services, and in compliance with the 1999 Supreme Court Decision, referred to as the Olmstead Decision. The Olmstead Decision provides the legal authority to eliminate unnecessary segregation of persons with disabilities, and to ensure that persons with disabilities receive services in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs.
PHASE and Industries, Inc., a division of PHASE, serve individuals throughout Pine, Chisago, Kanabec, and Isanti counties. While the overall demand for services has steadily increased in recent years, the characteristics of new referrals and the quantity of service authorization have changed. An increasing number of new referrals are presenting with severe and persistent mental illness, and many present with significant challenges in behavior. Further, new referrals are commonly authorized for less than five-days of service per week, which has presented a challenge in striking a balance between resource allocation and service quantity.
New regulations, including the implementation of MS245D, development of the MN Olmstead Plan, repeal of MN Rule 9525 - Rule 40, proposal of MN Rule 9544 - Positive Supports Rule, Moving Home Minnesota initiative, Federal HCBS Plan, Rate Restructuring, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, and Employment-First Policy initiatives, have provided both a challenge and opportunity to enhance the overall service delivery to be more person-centered, person-first, and community-integrated.
PHASE has adjusted its practices, structure and procedures to both comply with the new regulation, and meaningfully participate in the process of leading systematic changes in the field of supports for individuals with disabilities. PHASE has improved individualized planning of services, and moved to expand pathways for diversified employment opportunities to program participants. PHASE has expanded its community employment contracts, as well as increased the number of program participant and staff positions available through the expansion of internal PHASE businesses, such as PHASE Recycling. These areas of service development, service quality and business growth are further addressed in PHASE's Strategic Plan.
Program Participant First - Considering openly how all processes, actions and decisions will affect program participants. Every decision must benefit program participants.
Ethical Integrity - Acting at all times with only the highest of ethical integrity and scruples.
Large Minded - Choosing an empowered state, seeing possibilities, creating solutions.
Empowerment - Committing in action to individual and team -development, recognizing ompetence, and reinforcing excellence.
Innovation - Committing to new ideas and creative solutions.
Excellence - Promoting best practices, accountability and efficiency.
Service for Social Good - Committing to improve society through service.
Fun at Work - Promoting an enjoyable and fun workplace in the course of serving others.
A CARF Three-Year Accreditation was awarded to PHASE for the following services: Community Employment Services, including Employment Supports & Job Development, Employee Development and Employment Planning Services.
CARF accreditation demonstrates PHASE's quality, accountability, and commitment to the satisfaction of the persons served.
CARF International is an independent, nonprofit accreditor of health and human service providers in the areas of Aging Services, Behavioral Health, Child and Youth Services, Durable Medical Equipment, Employment and Community Services, Medical Rehabilitation, Opioid Treatment Programs, and Vision Rehabilitation Services. For more information on CARF, visit www.carf.org.