COVID Vaccination Update 1-7-21 

As you may know, vaccines for COVID have become more available in the state of Arkansas . Many pharmacies are now carrying the vaccine and some are making it available to people who provide direct care. 

While taking the vaccine is not a requirement of employment, we encourage each of our employees to receive the vaccine in order to protect you, our clients, and communities. In an effort to assist you in getting the vaccine, we have drafted a letter to local pharmacies informing them that you are an employee in direct care of individuals with disabilities. If you would like to receive the COVID vaccine, please contact your supervisor and let them know you would like one of these letters, which will be specific to you and have your name. You can then take the letter to pharmacies and request vaccination. Please note, not all pharmacies are participating. You may have to call around to find one in your area. This link provides a list of pharmacies https://www.arrx.org/covid-vaccine-pharmaciesThe participating pharmacies may have a wait list as they distribute according to the guidelines of the Department of Health. If you are interested in receiving the vaccination, please call your pharmacy of choice and see if they are administering immediately or if you need to be put on a wait list. If the provided letter is not sufficient for the pharmacy, please let your supervisor know what the pharmacy requires and we will do our best to help you meet those requirements. 

If you do receive a COVID vaccination, please inform your direct supervisor. ICM would like to know which of our employees have received it simply to keep track. Again, this is not a requirement for continued employment, but it is highly encouraged. 

Due to the limited amount of vaccine available, the state has directed the available vaccinations to those who are in direct care of others. ICM will follow state guidelines. At this time, the letter is only available to DSPs, line therapists, and any others who provide direct care to our clients. As more vaccine becomes available and the Department of Health offers the vaccination to more people, we will provide any documentation required at that time, for other employee types. 

If you have questions, please contact your supervisor. 
Thank you and stay safe! 

ICM COVID-19 Information and Guidelines

Update: 1-11-21

Employee Exposure

  • Employees who have been in close contact (defined as being within 6 feet of a person with confirmed COVID-19 or having unprotected direct contact with infectious secretions or excretions of the person with confirmed COVID-19) with someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19 cannot have contact with customers or enter an ICM office until:
    • 10 days have passed since exposure and no symptoms have developed or,
    • 7 days have passed since exposure and the employee has tested negative for COVID-19
      • If the employee continues to be exposed to someone who has tested positive, the quarantine countdown begins following the last exposure or after the person who tested positive has been released from quarantine as indicated below for asymptomatic, mild symptoms, and severe symptoms, whichever is first.
        • g., An employee lives with someone who recently tested positive on October 1st and is asymptomatic. The employee is also asymptomatic. If the employee remains asymptomatic and has continuous contact the person who tested positive, they cannot return to work or enter an ICM office until October 20th.
      • Exception for ICM employees: IF BOTH the infected person and employee were wearing a mask and eye protection during the close contact, the employee is exempt from being quarantined but should monitor themselves for the development of COVID-19 symptoms
    • Employees who have tested positive for COVID-19 cannot have contact with customers or enter an ICM office:
      • Asymptomatic
        • 10 days have passed and no symptoms have developed since the positive COVID-19 test
      • With mild to moderate illness:
      • Severe to critical illness:
      • The employee is to notify their supervisor immediately who will then notify Human Resources.
      • During this time, the person is expected to stay home during the entire quarantine period and not leave for any reason, except to seek any needed medical care.
      • If the employee does not develop symptoms of COVID-19 prior to the end of the self-quarantine period, they will be free to resume normal activities, including school or work.
      • Based upon Arkansas Department of Health Guidance (ADH), ICM does not require employees to retest for COVID-19 prior to returning to work. Employees are allowed to return to work if they remain positive for COVID-19, but have met quarantine requirements listed above for mild, moderate, or critical illness. The ADH indicated in an 8-11-20 memo that “some individuals may continue to test positive even after recovery criteria is met, and symptoms have resolved… individuals who continue to test positive after being removed from isolation pose little risk to others.”
      • The Regional Administrator of Programs (RAP) or designated supervisor should notify customers and employees who have been in contact with the employee since testing positive for COVID-19 that they could have been exposed.
      • ICM will determine if an employee can continue working in the event that an employee tests positive for COVID-19, the customer and employee live in the same home, and no other options of support are available. Based upon ADH guidance on 10-22-20, ICM could consider allowing the employee to continue working if it is determined essential, the employee is asymptomatic, the customer has tested positive for COVID-19, and the ADH approves. If approved, the employee should check and log their own body temperature upon arriving and leaving their shift, wear PPE (masks, gloves, gowns, and face shield), and maintain social distancing precautions when possible.

Customers who test positive for COVID-19 or have been in direct contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 (defined as being within 6 feet of a person with confirmed COVID-19 or having unprotected direct contact with infectious secretions or excretions of the person with confirmed COVID-19).

  • If a customer tests positive for COVID-19 or has been in direct contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, natural supports should be considered first. If natural supports are unavailable:
    • Employees should encourage the customer to wear a mask.
    • Employees are required to wear a mask, face shield, gloves, and gowns while providing supports to the customer. Employees can contact their supervisor who will provide them with the protective equipment if needed.
    • The customer’s body temperature should be checked and logged in Therap every morning and evening following the positive COVID-19 test result and should quarantine using the following guidelines:
      • The customer has mild to moderate illness:
        • At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared and
        • At least 24 hours have passed since last fever, i.e., 100.4 oF or higher without the use of fever-reducing medications and
        • Symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath) have improved
      • The customer has severe to critical illness:
        • At least 20 days have passed since symptoms first appeared and
        • At least 24 hours have passed since last episode of fever without the use of fever reducing medications and
        • Symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath) have improved
      • Employees should also check and log their own body temperature upon arriving and leaving their shift and closely monitor their symptoms. If employees begin showing symptoms, they should contact their supervisor immediately and suspend working with ICM customers until they can provide a negative COVID-19 test result or a physician clearance to return to work.
      • Employees should pay special attention to maintaining a clean environment by disinfecting surfaces routinely.
      • The RAP or designated supervisor should notify customers and employees who have been in contact with the customer since testing positive for COVID-19 that they could have been exposed.
    • Special Instructions for Autism Program:
      • ICM will suspend services to customers if they or household members test positive for COVID-19.
      • ICM will resume services once the person who tested positive and all household members who were exposed to the person obtain a negative COVID-19 test result and complete 14 day home self-quarantine with no symptoms by the end of the 14 day period, per ADH guidelines noted above.
    • Please call the ADH at 1-800-803-7847 if you have any questions regarding potential exposure, contact tracing, or quarantine guidelines.

General Guidelines:

  • ICM employees must contact supervisor if:
    • They notice their customer is becoming ill or is running a temperature greater than 100.4 If this situation arises, DSPs should ensure their customers receive medical attention immediately.
    • A school closes due to COVID-19 where the employee’s children attend and they are unable to work. (Arrangements will be made to provide substitute staff if the employee is unable to work.)
    • They have been in contact with someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19 within the last 14 days.
    • They have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are running a fever of 100.4 or greater.
  • Employees must wear a mask while inside of an ICM building or supporting customers when a six-foot distance cannot be met. Employees should contact their supervisor if masks are needed.
  • Employees with fever of 100.4 or greater cannot have contact with customers or enter an ICM office without a medical clearance.
  • Employees are to practice good hygiene:
    • Handwashing
      • immediately upon arriving to work with our customers
      • before assisting with medications
      • before assisting with food preparations
    • Cough and sneeze into your elbow
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces (doorknobs, kitchen handles, etc.)
    • Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds (slowing singing the ABCs is a good timer)
  • Employees should encourage their customers to avoid public venues where people are congregating. However, DPS are encouraged to support their customers with going outside (walks, picnics, etc.) and getting take-out food. DSPs and their customers are encouraged to wear a mask if they must have contact with people in the community.
  • Employees should ensure their customers have plenty of supplies (food, water, medicine, etc.) to tolerate intermittent supply shortages. Employee should contact their supervisor with any questions or concerns.
  • Employees should avoid watching and listening to news reports about COVID-19 when supporting their customers. News reports can often cause unnecessary fear and panic that does not promote the overall wellbeing of our customers.
  • Employees supporting customers in congregate environments (e.g., Kanis Apartments and roommate situations) should encourage the maintaining of a 6’ distance whenever possible.
  • ICM encourages that customers be tested for COVID-19 if they have been in contact with someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19 or have been in contact with someone who has been in contact someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19.

Incident Reporting:

  • ICM management staff will follow normal incident reporting guidelines in the event that a customer becomes ill due to COVID-19.
  • ICM management staff will notify DDS via email at DDS.Central@arkansas.govif services are interrupted for a customer due to COVID-19.

Care and Cleaning of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE):

  • Face Shields:
    • To properly wear a face shield, the panel of the shield should extend well past the chin and curve around the sides of your face. Adjust the elastic or adjustable band on your forehead to ensure there are no gaps between your forehead and the shield’s headpiece. Face shields are to be used in conjunction with a face mask, not as a replacement.
    • When usage is complete, remove the face shield by handling the head band or ear pieces. Try not to touch the shield to prevent cross-contamination.
    • Proper cleaning: submerge the protective panel in warm, soapy water and gently clean with a soft, clean cloth. Gently dry with a microfiber or cotton cloth. You can also sanitize your face shield with 70% isopropyl alcohol. Let air dry. Do not use Windex or other household cleaners on your face shield as they can damage it.
    • Wash your hands immediately.
  • N95 masks:
    • Face Mask rotation and storage: Multiple masks and paper bags will be issued as required to care for positive COVID environments. Label each bag with a day of the week or 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.
    • When use of the mask has ended for the day, place the mask in the bag for that day. Place the bag in a dry area. Do not touch the actual mask. Grasp the elastic ear-pieces instead.
    • Wash your hands immediately.
    • The next day, use another mask. When done, place it in the 2nd Continue each day until all masks have been rotated.
    • Begin again with the first mask for the next week.
    • This rotation can occur four times. In other words, each mask will be used four times before they can be disposed of.
  • Isolation gowns:
    • Iso gowns are single use gowns that should be worn temporarily when interacting with a person who is COVID positive.
    • To put on the gown, fully cover the torso from neck to the knees, arms to the end of the wrists, and wrap around the back. Fasten in the back of the neck and waist.
    • If wearing surgical gloves, they should cover the hand and extend over the wrist of the Iso gown.
    • For removal: The front of the gown and the sleeves hold the most contamination. Unfasten the gown, taking care that the sleeves do not touch the rest of your body. Pull the gown away from the neck and shoulders, only touching the inside of the gown. Turn the gown inside out and fold or roll it into a bundle. Discard in a waste container immediately.
    • Wash your hands immediately.
  • ICM follows guidance from the Arkansas Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention