Since mid-March, Benchmark’s day programs have been closed and our work centers have significantly scaled back workforce to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Throughout the course of this pandemic, Benchmark has been closely following guidelines and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and state and federal governments. Within our residential programs and at our work centers, we are taking the temperatures of staff prior to their shift and have increased the monitoring of individuals served to check for symptoms. We are encouraging diligent handwashing and cleaning/disinfecting of our facilities, practicing social distancing, and having staff wear masks and other PPE when appropriate. This has been extremely effective in keeping the rate of infections very low among employees and those served. We want to keep this trend going, as the virus is still continuing to spread in the communities where we provide services.
While many states are beginning to lift restrictions, Benchmark will be taking a more conservative approach to re-opening programs and services. Many of the people in our care have extensive medical needs and/or underlying health conditions. Almost everyone we serve lives in settings with one or more roommates and multiple staff. That means the risk for spread is high.
Our leadership teams are meeting on a regular basis to discuss the safest and best plan forward, and are developing strategies and safeguards to put into place for re-opening day services and expanding our workforce in our work centers to full capacity. Benchmark serves individuals in 14 states across the county, so each program will make these decisions based on data from that state, city, county, etc. We will slowly and thoughtfully begin to reintegrate those we serve into our programs when we feel it is safest for the individuals served and the staff who provide care.
We are grateful for a mighty team that has shown incredible flexibility, creativity, and compassion during this time. Because of their hard work and diligence, we are keeping those who have entrusted us with their care safe and healthy, and reducing the spread of COVID-19.