NHC’s Response to Covid-19 (Coronavirus)

The Power of Community
A Message from Debbie McGinness, CEO


New Hope Community continues to stand strong as we push through the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, we do not have any diagnosed cases of COVID-19. Agency-wide we continue to uphold all health and safety protocols as required by our NYS and Federal regulatory bodies to support everyone’s highest levels of health and safety. And – our staff continue to utterly amaze me as they demonstrate stamina, flexibility, creativity and caring in simply wondrous and beautiful ways!

We know changes in our viral status could occur at any time, so we are continuing to build our supply of hand sanitizer, masks and gloves through a myriad of resources. Our resourceful staff have stitched together 350 cloth medical masks thus far (180 more to go) for residential distribution. We also purchased 1000 cloth masks from a New York tailor and have several hundred surgical masks and N95 masks (and will be getting more). As we still have many weeks in front of us before peaking and climbing back to a stable and clear state of health, we know it is important to maintain the highest level of readiness, possible.

As we all strive to stay informed and be positioned to share essential support to one another, I would like to share some valuable resources available through our professional organization – NY Alliance. They recently removed their website firewall to allow non-members to access all their COVID-19 information and they’re building a great library of resources (www.nyalliance.org/coronavirus).

On this page you will find sections to include: Statewide Resources, Recorded Webinars, National Resources and Additional Resources. I hope you are able to visit the site and tap into some excellent information. I particularly would point you to the “Additional Resources” section. It has a sub-section for families and self-advocates and one for DSPs. Under the DSPs subsection there are links to: a) a recorded webinar on “The Role of the DSP and Coronavirus”, b) a COVID-19 Toolkit for DSPs, c) a recorded webinar on “Self-Care for DSPs in a Crisis”, and d) a video on “The Coronavirus Explained and What You Should Do”. There is something on this site for everyone!

I’ve likened our staff to “heroes”. I feel they are also “warriors”. Strong, determined, undeterred as they strive to defend and uphold our most important purpose. And I trust our families, friends and community partners are staying strong as well as we all do our best to not just survive, but to thrive as we move through and past this life-changing experience.

I will close by sharing that our traditional Seder dinner in our main building cannot occur this year. But we will still come together. Recipes have been shared and our house manager, Brina Cohen from 20 Aster Road, will be virtually (via Skype) hosting this sacred start of Passover the evening of April 8th (if you would like to join in, please add asterroad20@gmail.com into your Skype account and shoot an email to Brina).

Please stay safe, be well and in the spirit of freedom and liberation for all people “Happy Passover”.



Debra J. McGinness, CEO

A Message to our Staff and Families from Debbie McGinness, CEO


With so much uncertainty around us, there are things that are very clear to me:  NHC staff is amazing.  I am so thankful and proud of all of our staff.  To our DSP’s who are continuing to provide services and keep things as normal as possible; to our nurses, who are keeping us informed and maintaining a healthy environment; to our maintenance and cleaning crews who are constantly sanitizing and maintaining environmental controls.  And our Finance department, who makes sure business is running, and our clinical staff who are mindful of our mental wellness.  Each and every person is SO important.

The safety and well-being of people we support and our employees remain our highest priority, as the potential for community spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus continues. At this time, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 Coronavirus at New Hope Community. We are actively in contact with and monitoring websites of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), NYS Department of Health (DOH), County Health Departments and the NYS Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD).

During this crisis, we are thankful for our teams who are working together seamlessly and are in constant communication.

NHC has a number of measures in place, including

  • Suspending community outings and on site operation of our Day Programs, and reassigning those staff members to augment our teams at residential sites. Our staff has been extremely flexible and has demonstrated extraordinary commitment to our mission in light of unprecedented circumstances.
  • Implementing a NO Visitors Policy to protect the well-being of those we support and our staff.
  • Utilizing Skype and Face time to keep families connected and provide emotional support and social interactions.
  • Integrating limited time outdoors, while maintain social distancing rules.
  • Utilizing Telemedicine for appointments as available.
  • Increasing training on cleaning protocols and product use, and practicing beyond Universal Precautions.
  • Assessing critical supplies of PPE and exploring alternatives, including developing our own (please visit our Facebook page to see fun pics of our staff making facemasks together – incredible!).

*We will continue to send out regular updates through our website, Facebook page and email blasts. Thank you for staying tuned and be well*


An update from Debbie McGinness, CEO


Dear Families and Friends –

During this time, things are changing dramatically hour by hour. I didn’t want to wrap up this work week without reaching out with some important updates.

First, as of this email, I am happy to share that we continue to have no confirmed cases of COVID-19 within our New Hope family. In addition, Sullivan County continues to be vastly lower in confirmed cases compared to all surrounding counties (currently standing at 6). In addition, we continue to have a very steady staffing structure in place that is comprehensively covering all staffing needs throughout our 41 homes.

Other important information:

Governor Cuomo announced mid-day (3/20) that a state-wide lockdown will go into effect on Sunday, 3/22 at 8 pm. Although our organization is granted an exception to this order due to our essential 24/7 services to a vulnerable population, we are still responding in a manner that demonstrates our commitment to the highest level of safety and sensitivity for all those we sup

  •           Our HR department emailed letters this afternoon to all programmatic and leadership staff. The letter will confirm their employment as a designated essential employee of a human service agency providing 24/7 services to people with I/DD. Staff will be keeping this in their vehicle for all work-related travels starting Sunday evening at 8 pm

Other information to note:

  •           Our front desk will continue to be covered Monday – Friday, 8am – 9 pm and Saturday and Sunday, 9am – 9 pm
  •           Agency nurses will be remaining on site to ensure everyone’s health and safety
  •           Our HR department will have staff from 8am – 4pm, Monday – Friday to assist with all HR-related needs
  •           We have developed flexible departmental scheduling to ensure a minimum number of staff present to effectively run and oversee all operations
  •           Myself, as well as all other senior leadership, will maintain a continuous presence during this time. We understand the importance of providing consistent, ongoing guidance and support and as things change will respond and communicate swiftly and appropriately

I continue to be so thrilled at the incredible evidence of dedication, collaboration, caring, creativity and strength within our New Hope family. I am seeing random acts of kindness take place all around me and have staff actively brainstorming on ways to keep all those we support (as well as themselves) engaged in fun, meaningful activities to combat the potential negative effects of unexpected change and isolation*.  Also, I am happy to share that everyone is excited that our NHC Foundation board is generously providing pizza delivery to all of our homes over the next few days (and pizza is a big hit around here). So please know – despite the presenting challenges – we are doing okay and truly hanging in there!

I am happy to respond to any questions or concerns you may have. I will be checking my email each hour over the weekend and will respond promptly to all that reach out to me.

Stay safe and well!



*We’ve shared: free Sproutflix films http://sproutflix.org/virtual-sprout-film-festival/, “blast from the past” New Hope you tube videos https://www.youtube.com/user/newhopecommunity1, a free stream of a 3/13/20 Live Performance of BeethovenNOW: Symphonies 5 & 6 https://www.philorch.org/live and much, much more (hope you have the chance to check these out). And please – feel free to share other resources with us!


An Update From Debbie McGinness, CEO


New Hope Community leadership has been closely tracking every new development related to coronavirus (COVID-19) and continues to immediately respond to all updates, guidance and programmatic mandates in an informed and comprehensive manner. Without question, our top priority has been the health and wellbeing of all those we support and all New Hope employees. We also are making decisions that speak to our need to support the health and wellbeing of the communities in which we provide services. After all, we are all in this together and the actions of each one of us can ultimately impact many others.

As we continue our efforts to maintain a healthy environment for all, I am writing to make you aware of temporary changes that will be put into effect today:

  •           For all homes, programs and buildings, we will no longer be allowing any visitors.  This includes Care Managers and families. All locations will receive signage tomorrow to place in their locations.
  •           We are suspending all day program operations.
  •           We asking staff to not participate in any external meetings.  Internal meetings should be accomplished via teleconferencing, unless otherwise approved.
  •           We will be implementing basic wellness checks of our staff in homes to support a healthy environment.
  •           Our ICF homes are going to have additional guidelines that must be followed as mandated by OPWDD.

As of this writing, there are still no confirmed cases in Sullivan County. However, we believe that these measures are necessary to be as proactive as possible.

As previously stated, please reach out to your Caseload Nurses with any questions you may have regarding COVID-19.  And while we are focusing on temporary limitations, I encourage you to focus on what you CAN do to support healthy positioning during this challenging time. Though we may be uncomfortable for a while, we will learn from this and it will get better. Let’s all remember to take a moment to enjoy the fresh air and may we all hang onto the hope that spring is around the corner.

We will get through this with the support of our families and our dedicated staff.



Debra J. McGinness

Chief Executive Officer


An Update on COVID-19 from Debbie McGinness, CEO


Dear Families and Friends,

We recognize you, or members of your family, may have some questions or concerns about COVID-19 (coronavirus).  New Hope Community leadership and our Health Services team are actively monitoring and aggressively implementing precautionary measures to protect individuals and staff. As of this writing, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Sullivan County.

We want to assure you that as a healthcare provider we follow stringent infectious disease policies and procedures. At this time, all activities and meetings outside of the facility are suspended.  In addition, all visitors must be pre-screened prior to entering the facility. It is mandatory that all families and friends call the home to complete this prescreening prior to arriving.

Please know this is a rapidly evolving situation and we will continue to adjust our planning and actions as developments warrant. Our efforts are informed by the recommendations of the New York State Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and OPWDD on all such incidents regarding health care facilities.

Should you have any questions, please reach out to the caseload nurse assigned to your family member, or email us at healthinfo@newhopecommunity.org.




Debra J. McGinness

Chief Executive Officer

Additional Resources
CDC’s dedicated 2019-nCoV website at https://www.cdc.gov/nCoV


An Update on COVID-19


New Hope Community leadership and our Health Services team are actively monitoring the COVID-19 (coronavirus) and are currently coordinating our planning with all state and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance on best practices for safeguarding our facility.  The safety and well-being of our staff and individuals we support are our primary concerns.  We know this is a rapidly evolving situation and we will continue to adjust our planning and actions as developments warrant. Our efforts are informed by the recommendations of the New York State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on such incidents regarding health care facilities.

New Hope Community already has stringent infectious disease protocols in place and has been taking additional steps to minimize the spread of viruses and a variety of other illnesses.

There are a number of steps that families and community members can take to minimize the spread of all respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, according to the State Department of Health:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • * DO NOT VISIT if you have traveled or been exposed to someone who has traveled to an area that has been deemed an area of outbreak or of heightened concern in the U.S. or other country. Please give us a call before visiting.

New Hope Community is committed to the safety and well being of the individuals we support and those who work for us. We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation closely, so that we are fully prepared to take action, and to keep you informed.

Should you have any questions, please reach out to the caseload nurse assigned to your family member, or email us at  healthinfo@newhopecommunity.org.

For the Centers for Disease Control’s latest updates on coronavirus, visit the CDC website.