NHC’s Response to COVID-19 (Coronavirus)


Support New Hope



A Weekly Update Message 



We’re continuing this week with another staff’s interesting details and updates regarding New Hope Community’s COVID-19 journey. Amy LeRoy is our Director of Staff Training and Development and I know all our readers will enjoy what she has to share! Hope everyone is continuing to be safe and well!

Sometimes we allow ourselves to get so consumed with the negative outcomes of our circumstances that we miss the silver lining. I will confess that I was one of those people as the realities of a COVID-19 shutdown closed in around me. The dilemma of ensuring training continued for 620 employees and the continuation of orientation for new staff was just a few of the training department’s concerns. As luck would have it, we were just a few weeks away from rolling out a new training platform that would allow staff to complete a variety of essential trainings through an on-line training platform. I am blessed to work with two very wonderful people, so Robyn, Muriel and I immediately got busy developing training tools that would introduce Relias to the organization. What was projected to take us up to 60 days to complete was successfully done in 3 weeks. As an agency, over the past five months, we have added 20 trainings (and still counting) to the Relias learning platform.  These trainings provide staff with the New Hope Community foundation for services.

Bringing new staff into the agency is always a priority and Relias has also assisted us with the new employee orientation process. We were able to take two days a month, with 8 new staff each day to allow for social distancing, provide them an overview, and send them to the homes and programs where they would have the benefit of both on-line and hands-on training. In the very near future, we will be meeting with them again to discuss their experiences and provide them additional tools to foster a successful career with the agency. To date, this has added 43 new staff to the agency that might not otherwise have been possible.

Although I have mentioned that the training department is comprised of fantastic people, I must also acknowledge the fact that everyone within the agency worked hard to come up with creative ways to adapt to “hands-off” training. Although we have a CPR module on Relias, it still didn’t cover someone’s ability to practice their skills using a mannequin. For two days we occupied the Multi-Purpose Room. We had a mannequin in each corner with an instructor who demonstrated and then observed the staff perform compressions. We had another instructor demonstrate breaths and then another instructor assist staff in performing the Heimlich on the “Choking Charlie” mannequin, ensuring that the mannequins were sanitized after each staff completed the training.  Medical services provided us with drape clothes that were modified to fit over “Choking Charlie” so that they could easily be thrown away after each use. This ingenuity and flexibility allowed the instructors to train over 100 staff who will be ready to assist in an emergency situation with the necessary skills to save a life.

The clinicians used Relias and Zoom to provide Strategies for Crisis Intervention and Prevention training and then suited up to demonstrate and teach physical interventions to new staff who may find themselves in a situation where it would be needed. Respectfully supporting people who are in crisis is critically important to what we do.

Van testing too had modifications. Disposable steering wheel covers, gear shift covers and seat covers were purchased. After each driver completed the training, these items were disposed and the driver side of the vehicle was completely sanitized. The SUNY Sullivan campus provided a prime location for drivers to be put to the test.

When Relias wasn’t an option we looked to technology such as Zoom to provide essential training to new staff, assist with certification of medication pours, host self-advocate meetings, check-in with staff to provide encouragement and support, etc.

The silver lining mentioned earlier is witnessing the willingness of everyone in the agency to come together and create viable alternatives when it seemed impossible. Breaking out of the “we’ve always done it like this” mentality to discover new tools to educate and enhance learning that we had not considered before. But most importantly, we never lost sight of our mission statement. We rose to the challenge despite the obstacles the pandemic put before us, and with the efforts of all, we continue to strive to enhance the lives of the people we support.

Warm Regards,

Many of you received an e-mail yesterday with the details of our way to honor and celebrate our 45-year history.  Despite cancelling our Annual Family BBQ this year, a Collection of Family BBQ Memories will be compiled.

Please support and share copies of photos and stories from past Family BBQ’s.

Submit your photos, memories and stories via e-mail to the Marketing Department at marketing@newhopecommunity.org. If you should have any questions or need assistance, please contact Donna Fischer, Director of Marketing & Communications at 845-434-8300, ext. 244 or dfischer@newhopecommunity.org

Submission Deadline: Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Accepted Image Formats: JPG, PNG, PDF, TIFF, BITMAP

A Weekly Update Message 


This week I have the pleasure of introducing our Director of Clinical Services, Erin Rion as the author of today’s website update. She and her clinical team have been steadfast and flexible in supporting the needs of our residents and program participants over the last several months. They consistently adapt, in real-time, to ensure the highest level of clinical supports are still realized during these dynamically changing times.  ~ Debbie

American psychologist and researcher Al Siebert wrote: “When you are hit with life-disrupting events, you will never be the same again.  You either cope or you crumble; you become better or bitter; you emerge stronger or weaker.”  Our New Hope family has been a shining example of strength in the face of adversity and uncertainty.  Unshakable teamwork and limitless adaptability have given us an advantage in facing this new, unknown, and seemingly insurmountable obstacle.  As slivers of hope begin to emerge, we look inward to see how this worldwide pandemic has impacted staff and the individuals we support.

The nation’s collective mental health has reached a crisis point over the past several months, and our microcosm has certainly reflected this shift.  However, no matter how bleak the outlook, hope has continued to prevail in our community.  As a team, we have learned to cope with these massive worldwide changes by relying on each other, focusing on the positive, demonstrating flexibility, and practicing compassion.

We wouldn’t be where we are without the courage and leadership of our Direct Support staff.  From the first signs of alarm, DSPs reacted with compassion, bravery, and empathy.  They reassured the individuals we support, listened to their fears, and refocused their attention on fun household activities, all while dealing with their own personal struggles.  Medical staff never shied away from placing themselves on the front lines in order to provide excellent healthcare, while other support staff dealt with the confusion of being thrown into a work-from-home environment in a field that relies heavily on in-person interactions.  Our Clinical Department came together to develop a system of providing mental health services by using creative technologies and worked diligently to reach each individual for frequent check-ins during even the most stressful times.  We know that a feeling of uncertainty is one of the hardest emotions to process, so clinicians provided extra support to those individuals who have had a difficult time coping with recent events.

Each member of our New Hope team worked hard to make sudden changes and adapt to a crisis that was evolving by the day.  We often think of the impact of disrupted routines on folks with disabilities; however, all of us have been impacted by the uncertainty of the past several months.  It is a testament to the leadership of New Hope that we have remained as one united force in the face of unprecedented change.

In these most recent days, we have once again been hit by a new wave of changes as day programs have reopened, supported work has resumed, and visits have been permitted.  These developments are all positive signs that our diligence in practicing safety measures has been paying off, but even positive change can be difficult to acclimate to.  At first glance it may seem like “getting back to normal” is going to bring about a sense of relief and calm to the folks we support, but those of us in direct care can attest that all transition times are challenging, even those transitions that are intended to restore normalcy.

With the future in limbo, the upcoming weeks and months are sure to introduce more changes and challenges.  Many things are uncertain, but I am sure that if we continue to work together as a team, we truly can make it through any hardships that may arise.


Many of you received an e-mail yesterday with the details of our way to honor and celebrate our 45-year history.  Despite cancelling our Annual Family BBQ this year, a Collection of Family BBQ Memories will be compiled.

Please support and share copies of photos and stories from past Family BBQ’s.

Submit your photos, memories and stories via e-mail to the Marketing Department at marketing@newhopecommunity.org. If you should have any questions or need assistance, please contact Donna Fischer, Director of Marketing & Communications at 845-434-8300, ext. 244 or dfischer@newhopecommunity.org

Submission Deadline: Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Accepted Image Formats: JPG, PNG, PDF, TIFF, BITMAP


A Weekly Update Message 


Greetings! We have had another productive week here at New Hope Community as everyone adjusts to our recent programmatic changes. I thought it would be a nice change for all our readers this week, to receive a message from Terence Duncan, our Assist. VP of Program Operations in charge of Residential, Day Services/Day Habilitation and Supported Employment (SEMP). He and his team are doing a fantastic job navigating a multitude of changes and supporting our New Hope family.

Enjoy the updates – stay safe – stay well! Debbie

Hello, my name is Terence Duncan and I am the Assistant Vice President of Program Operations.  I first would like to thank my entire team of Directors, Coordinators, all levels of front line management, and most importantly our Direct Support Professionals (DSPs).  We have fought this pandemic head-on and have experienced incredible results in every department due to their first-class professionalism and leadership.  I have never been more proud of the teams I represent today then in my entire 25 year career in this amazing field.

This week marked an extremely challenging, yet well-coordinated, soft opening for our Day Services. Site-based and non-site based groups began to reshape, in accordance with our guidance from OPWDD, to keep homes together and in small groups.  Our campus lends itself to wonderful spaces that we took full advantage of to use for programming. We are able to keep people distant and provide meaningful activities to people who were craving to get back.  Our WithOut Walls group began on the same path, taking advantage of visiting local parks and all the beautiful Catskill Mountains have to offer.  They even got to have a drive-through experience at the Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, NY (near Binghamton). They are also making deliveries of fresh produce from Hope Farm to our homes. We continue to be very mindful of the activities we choose in the community to avoid large crowded areas. As we progress through our next steps and plan more activities, we should be back to serving all the people we support, in these programs, in the very near future.

This week also marked the first full week of offsite family visits.  We have to date a total of 209 scheduled visits. When given the guidance from OPWDD, our residential team jumped into action to develop very diligent safety protocols.  Our goal was to have this initiative executed on time and to have all management trained with the knowledge and tools to help families make the safest decisions with their loved ones. With only a few days to put this in place, the residential team again rose to the occasion. In addition, we had to work in new guidance to our existing community outing protocols.  While Sullivan County’s seven day rolling average for COVID-19 positive test results are less than 1%, we continue to work our way back into our community slowly and adhere to strict health monitoring to ensure everyone’s safety.

Supported Employment took its next steps as well.  We have returned to 90% of our janitorial contracts and the people we support are happy to be making money again.  In addition, we have begun to re-open our car wash for our vast fleet of vehicles.  Two people were very excited to return to their work at Hope Farm this week. Our Head Farmer, Megan, says she has never seen them more focused on their tasks and they are having a blast.   I would like to note that when our contracts and other jobs were closed down, our Employment Specialists kept in contact with their SEMP employees through weekly Zoom meetings that consisted of watching and discussing work-related videos.  In addition, other Employment Specialists began working in our homes alongside our day program DSPs.  Their willingness to switch roles and adapt their responsibilities was so helpful to many.

This whole experience really shows how New Hope’s resolve weaves through all of its programs, staff, and people served.  I am thankful to be part of this team and I look forward to more growth and development in the future.



A Message from Debbie McGinness, CEO


This has been a very busy week for everyone at New Hope Community! Each day has been filled with interdepartmental meetings, leadership meetings, team meetings, creation and completion of new protocols, documentation, environmental modification installs and residential and Day Hab/Day Services staff training. I just have to give a huge round of applause to our New Hope team. A team that consistently has a “can do” attitude, a collaborative spirit and a zeal for positive progress. It could not be more evident – together we can do just about anything!

This past Thursday (7/16) we rolled out a soft opening of Day Hab/Day Services. We are blessed to have physical spaces that lend themselves to spreading out among many wings of the main building, our barn, our re-purposed art studio cottage and much more. We have everything in place (right down to the arrows on our floors directing a singular flow of foot traffic) to support a safe, organized process that follows OPWDD guidelines, to date. It’s only the second day – but so far so good – and everyone is truly happy to re-start a rhythm that ceased several months ago.  Hats off to:  Sam, Bethany, Danielle, Shiniqua, Jess and Ginette.  Terence and many of his residential staff were also key to making this happen.

Families have also begun home visitations. We are cheering on this front as well, but also adhering to strict safety and health protocols within this broadened landscape. We are doing everything possible to keep our New Hope family in a negative COVID-19 space and ask that our families stay diligent in practicing self-care and consistent in upholding practices that include: social distancing, use of masks, limiting of community trips (open, outdoor spaces best) and limited interactions with others outside your family unit (no parties, social gatherings, etc.). If during a home visit your family member shows signs of illness, please notify us immediately so that we may develop a plan, prior to a return to the residence. We need to seamlessly work as a team and so appreciate your cooperation. Clearly, progress is being experienced, but by no means are we on the other side of COVID-19 and it’s important for all of us to stay mindful of that fact.

Our Community Insider newsletter was distributed today and I hope you have a chance to read it. In particular, I trust you will read my column that speaks to the value of family advocacy and our need to join together as we responsibly respond to proposed changes within our sector. I will be sharing more information on this front in the coming weeks and months and look forward to hearing from you. As always, your voice matters!

Have a great weekend. Stay safe – stay well!




A Message from Debbie McGinness, CEO


As some may already be aware, OPWDD Commissioner Kastner distributed updated guidance this past Friday evening specific to: a) interim guidance regarding the reopening of day services certified by OPWDD, b) home visits for individuals residing in OPWDD certified residential facilities, c) reintroduction of individuals to certified residences after extended home visits, and d) interim guidance regarding community outings for individuals residing in OPWDD certified residential facilities*.

New Hope Community leadership immediately communicated Friday evening and are currently moving through a series of inter-departmental meetings to create all necessary protocols, environmental modifications and related staff trainings.

Welcome news but news that carries with it a high level of planning and a very careful eye to implementation that fully supports optimal health and safety.



*Guidance can be referenced through:






A Message from Debbie McGinness, CEO


This past weekend was filled with more fun and positive family visits. To date, we have had a total of 156 visits scheduled and staff are loving their role in supporting this F2F connection. Present protocols for visitation will continue to remain in place for the present time. This decision is based on three key factors: 1) OPWDD/DOH have not provided any new guidance that would allow changes to visitation, 2) our summer population in the town of Fallsburg and surrounding areas has swelled to a number approximately six times greater than that of our year-round residential population and density of people in public places and the inconsistency of safe practices (adherence to social distancing and use of face masks) indicates the need to maintain strict outing guidelines, and 3) COVID-19 statistics nationwide are continuously reminding us that we are still in the first COVID wave and the virus is still very much in our midst. New Hope Community has maintained a COVID-19 free status since 5.10.20 and we are committed to doing our very best to keep it that way!

On this note, I need to share that we have determined it would not be safe for New Hope Community to hold its Annual Family BBQ this year.

Although Sullivan County and our Mid-Hudson region is holding strong with low COVID-19 stats, COVID-driven data nationwide is proving this pandemic is far from over. The resurgence in many states is demonstrating that group gatherings and a break in adherence to social distancing and/or mask-wearing, continues to fuel a dangerously high level of exposure/transmission risk. We do not believe it is realistic for us to be able to confirm the health status of all attendees, inter-state travel paths of attendees pre-barbecue, maintain consistent social distancing, and ensure the wearing of masks as needed, for and during this type of event.

Despite cancelling our BBQ and in light of the fact that this is our 45th anniversary year, we do want to take the opportunity to celebrate our history with a stroll down memory lane. In the next few weeks we will be asking board members, family members, and staff to share copies of photos, as well as stories, from past Family BBQ’s which we’ll creatively curate and post on our website, September 13th (which is when we would have held this year’s BBQ). Taking a look back at how our friends and families have shared, grown and changed will be a wonderful way to celebrate together while we’re apart. Please stay tuned for more info and know we will be putting lots of positive energy into this important project.

Also, please note, we all realize how much everyone looks forward to this get-together and we will ensure our staff are prepared to support our residents as they respond to this news. We will be encouraging each residence to discover their own special way to celebrate this day (short of having a F2F family gathering). I encourage everyone to get those creative juices flowing!

I’m sure this news doesn’t come as a big surprise, but I know it still represents a deep disappointment as this has always been a much-loved event. Bottom line, this decision speaks to putting emotions to the side and staying true to a data-driven decision making process. We will always put the health and safety of our New Hope family first!

I have consistently shared that New Hope is strong, resilient, creative, committed and very much connected as a family. This will be different – but we will still make it special.

Be well – stay safe!

Warm regards,



A Message from Debbie McGinness, CEO


New Hope Community is enjoying a livelier hum these days! There is still much more we look forward to resuming, but that’s not stopping us from celebrating each step of progress along the way. It gives me great pleasure to share that since visitation began on June 19th, families have scheduled 125 visits (and counting) with their loved ones – and we are so very happy to both support and witness many beautiful reunions. One of our families was highlighted in a recent news article at: https://www.lohud.com/story/news/local/new-york/2020/07/01/new-york-program-cuts-developmental-disabilities/3244131001/. With this article there’s a great short video interview and photos of New Hope resident Amara Morgulas (photos 8 & 9) visiting with her mom and brother. And these are the important things in life that make us smile and feel thankful!

Although New Hope Community has maintained a negative COVID-19 presence since May 10th, this virus is still wreaking havoc throughout the country. Many states that were late or lax in responding to necessary safety protocols are now paying the price with COVID-19 spikes. Thankfully, New York continues to stay stable. Our Mid-Hudson region currently has a 1.1% rate of positive test results. As of July 2nd, Sullivan County had 1 positive out of 158 tests (.6%). So current trending is consistently very low and we are celebrating that fact, as well!

With all this good news, it’s easy to forget that we’re not out of the woods yet and the remainder of this year is still an untold story. COVID-19 surges experienced nationwide are most often resulting from group get-togethers and we are watching this closely as we work to project forward on our own New Hope events for 2020.

Also, our “mask brigade” at New Hope has never ceased making masks as it is recommended we have at least a three month supply of PPE on hand at all times. So as we all continue to wear masks and stock up for the future, our dedicated team continues to sew away!  And if you can believe – to date – they’ve made close to 5,000 masks!  So – I just have to give a tip of the hat to: Robyn, Pat, Muriel, Alicia, Melissa, Christina, Kushana, Karen K. and Amy! Thank you for helping keep your New Hope family safe and for doing it with such cheerful and willing spirits!

In closing, I wish everyone a very safe, fun and healthy July 4th weekend. And as an FYI, we will be holding to the present visitation protocols throughout this weekend.

Happy 244th anniversary of the birth of the United States of America as an independent nation.

Warm regards,



A Message from Debbie McGinness, CEO


As everyone knows, the Mid-Hudson region entered Phase 3 of our state’s re-opening plan this past Tuesday (6/23). This was cause for celebration for many local businesses and we are happy to see data-driven progress that supports the livelihood of so many. Although we are not mirroring New York’s phases, we are continuing to take steps that celebrate a gradual and safe re-opening and I am happy to provide another positive update, today.

Last weekend we were thrilled to have more than 30 families trek our way to spend time with their loved ones and have many more families coming to visit this weekend. Thank you to everyone for working so patiently and so positively with our House Managers in following our protocols when scheduling your visit and when visiting your loved one.

As we now enter our second visitation weekend*, we will be making the following changes to our visit protocols:

  • Outdoor visits may be scheduled for up to 2 hours
  • Families may leave the premises of the home but need to confirm with residential staff that visits to indoor spaces will not occur. We recommend trips to a local park, outdoor walking trails, outdoor ice cream/food stands, etc. (places that lend themselves to social distancing at all times). We request everyone wear a mask if exiting your vehicle

*All other visitation protocols remain the same as listed in my website update below (6/17)*

Other good news to share regarding re-opening progress throughout the organization (everything noted below will be guided by very careful, specific protocols):

  • A handful of individual Supported Employment placements commenced this week
  • New Hope Community activities will begin the week of 6/29 at our Hope Farm, stables, Community Center in Liberty and greenhouses
  • Our Supported Employment campus car wash will resume activity the week of 6/29
  • Supported Employment janitorial crews will begin returning to select janitorial sites the week of 7/6
  • Our campus pool will be opening the week of 7/6

On another positive note; there’s already an abundance of fresh, delicious veggies growing in our farm fields and our residences are picking up healthy bundles, twice a week.

So as you can see, positive change is being realized as we increasingly provide a connection to our families, to New Hope staff and programs and to our community at large. Our steps are measured but represent welcome progress. We will continue to carefully assess the impact of every change and remain committed to putting the health and safety of our New Hope family at the forefront of all decisions made and actions taken.

Thank you for staying the course with us!

Be well – stay safe,


*Please review Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order 205 regarding out-of-state visitation. If you have travelled from within one of the designated states with significant community spread, you must quarantine when you re-enter New York, for 14 days. Please take personal responsibility for complying with this advisory in the best interests of public health and safety.


A Message from Debbie McGinness, CEO


Finally!! Great news as per Governor Cuomo’s press conference this morning – we can begin visitation – at our discretion – effective this Friday, 6/19. This is the most welcome news and we are so excited to invite our families back into our New Hope midst!

Starting at 2 pm today, House Managers will be prepared to receive your call to schedule your family visit. House Managers will also be prepared to answer your questions and provide more detailed information on your call, but for starters allow me to state some protocol basics:

  • No less than 24 hour call-ahead required for visits
  • Limit of two family members per visit
  • Health screening protocols and health safety practices will be in place
  • Limited physical contact between family members is requested
  • Visits will take place outdoors* – seating will be provided – shelter will be arranged in case of inclement weather

Thank you everyone for your patience and understanding as we awaited this update!

So here we go!  Let the visits begin and may you and your loved one have a wonderful, warm, fun time together!

Welcome back!


*We have chosen to start with outdoor visitation in order to support the highest, safest level of a careful re-opening. We will be assessing the status of this visitation level over the next couple of weeks and will keep you informed of any changes in visitation levels, in real time! Enjoy!


A Message from Debbie McGinness, CEO


Since my update yesterday there have been several family responses pertaining to our invitation to consider a “window visit” with your loved one (if an appropriate choice). I hear and feel your frustration and exasperation – truly I do – and please know we are fully prepared to roll-out outdoor visitation…. but we simply cannot do so without an official green light from DOH and OPWDD.

We are reaching out directly to multiple OPWDD leaders on a daily basis to seek guidance on this front and continue (as of today) to be told that anything beyond what we have presently offered, is not allowed. Therefore, as eager as we are to move forward, we know at this point in time, it would be irresponsible to do so.

I would like to invite everyone to speak out on this issue and let the “powers that be” at OPWDD hear what you have to say. Your voice matters and this matter is important!! You can email your thoughts and concerns to: info@opwdd.ny.gov or call their information line at: #866-946-9733. You can also find additional contact information on the OPWDD website: www.opwdd.ny.gov

We believe that outdoor visitation, at this time, could be conducted safely and prove hugely beneficial to the health and wellbeing of our residents and families alike. So please join us in making this position known!

Lastly, our current crisis has worn many of us quite thin. But, I believe we are still a committed, compassionate New Hope family that believes in our common purpose and celebrates our caring bonds. May we all do our best to show kindness and patience in the face of adversity. It takes courage, strength, empathy, and a loving heart – and that’s perfect – because that’s us – that’s New Hope Community!

We are in this together!

Warmest regards,



A Message from Debbie McGinness, CEO


Effective June 15th, New Hope Community will commence with Step 1 of our Re-Opening Action Plan.

We are all acutely aware of everyone’s need and desire to visit with their loved one(s) but need to continue with our No Visitor policy for the safety of everyone we support. We understand how difficult this is for families to be away – for so long – from those they care so deeply about. However, the potential risk involved with visitation, could impact many. Progress has been made, but COVID is not over. As Governor Cuomo stated in his daily briefing earlier today, the reward must outweigh the risk. Once guidance on the visitation front has been made available from DOH and OPWDD, we will promptly communicate this welcome change and be fully prepared to initiate in-person visits*.

In the meantime, effective Monday, June 15, we will facilitate families seeing their loved ones through “window visits” outside the home. You may also drop off care packages at the home’s entrance. You will not be permitted in the home nor can you have direct contact. The window visits are to be pre-scheduled at least 24 hours in advance with the House Manager (each HM will be happy to discuss these details in greater depth with you). Please carefully consider whether this type of visit will be a positive experience for all involved. I know emotions are running high (and I understand that) but please allow good judgment and the wellbeing of your loved one, to drive your decision.

Before I continue with additional details I just have to pause and share some wonderful news. Our one resident that was seriously ill from COVID-19 and who has recently been receiving PT in the hospital, returned to his New Hope home today!! His staff drove him by the front of our building so he could be greeted by waving, smiling and cheering staff (he was waving and smiling from ear to ear, too!). So, as we continue to make progress but feel our impatience growing with the slow pace of change, I trust we can still take precious moments to celebrate the positives and do our very best to handle the ongoing challenges.

Other logistics to review and/or update as part of Step 1:

A Family Service Specialist will be in the main building up to 3 days a week if needed.

Day Programs – LAC/WOW – status unchanged – staff will begin and end their shift working in an assigned IRA or ICF home alongside residential staff.

SEMP (Supported Employment) – janitorial, recycling, vending, shredding and lawn care services will commence the week of 6/15 with all necessary safety precautions and practices in place.

Health Services – temperature monitoring in administration building will continue.

Clinical Services – a) phone and zoom counseling sessions continue, b) clinicians may go to home if necessary, c) clinicians will focus on assisting individuals with transition back to routines, d) clinicians will be on-site on a frequency as determined by their Supervisor, alternating use of their shared spaces.

All enhanced cleaning and sanitizing procedures continue.

Outside visitors – status unchanged – not allowed in the main administrative building or in the homes.

Implementation of a slow careful return of staff to the administrative building will begin.

There will be signage posted throughout the building indicating the need for social distancing and the usage of masks, where appropriate.

We’re hoping for guidelines to come our way in the very near future that will support our continued re-opening progress. In the meanwhile, be well, stay safe and please accept my deepest thanks for your continued support of New Hope Community!



*Current DOH communication specific to OPWDD’s status with guidance to provider agencies’ regarding visitation status:

Visitation at all OPWDD certified residential facilities was temporarily suspended at the onset of the COVID-19 global pandemic response to ensure the health and safety of the people they support.  With reopening starting across the state, we know that families are eager to resume visitation and participation in day services for their loved ones who live in group homes. We are working closely with OPWDD to ensure that visitation and programming is reopened safely for this vulnerable population and is in line with New York’s broader reopening plans. Currently, OPWDD is working on guidance on re-opening and there are efforts to coordinate and align recommendations across vulnerable settings.


A Message from Debbie McGinness, CEO


Our New Hope team is still finalizing some important details for Step 1 of our Re-opening Action Plan. To ensure our careful planning process is not compromised due to time constraints, I will be posting all details for Step 1 this Friday, 6/12.

Thank you so much for your patience and understanding. We are learning as we create our steps that this is a very complex and sensitive process that truly takes a lot of collaborative thinking and efforts.

Please know, our commitment to the highest levels of safety and health for all involved is driving this initiative.




A Message from Debbie McGinness, CEO


It’s wonderful to report that our running record of no new positive COVID-19 cases continues (26 days)! We are celebrating our path of progress! Although guidance from OPWDD and DOH has yet to come our way (to our surprise) we have designed a flexible, conservative three-step “re-opening” plan for the areas of organizational life that can begin to experience change based on our region’s re-opening phase status. Our agency-specific plan has a tentative start date of 6/15/20. Our three-step plan will allow us to slowly introduce interactions and engagements that optimally support everyone’s state of well-being while also teaching and supporting safety skills and practices.

PLEASE NOTE: No action step has been given a pre-determined/contained timeframe, as progression from one step to another will be based on the levels of safety, health and wellbeing demonstrated within each step. It will be critical for us to accurately track and interpret both quantitative and qualitative data to make an informed decision within this process. Feedback from all involved will also drive our movement. We do expect this process to continue through our summer months and very possibly into the months beyond. So, patience and commitment to a careful process will be most important and appreciated. Simply put, we need to get this right!


PLEASE NOTE: In creating resources, tools, plans, etc. for this process our Action Plan Team realized that changes specific to our residential life would be largely shaped by OPWDD and DOH guidance. Therefore, one online survey was created which is specific to our Day Services/Day Habilitation programs. This is being distributed to our stakeholders today (6/05) via Survey Monkey. Please respond and return within the next week (thank you!). A similar survey for all Day Service/Day Habilitation participants has also been created and will be completed with staff assistance, as needed. Please remember, all stakeholders may also share additional input at: feedback@newhopecommunity.org. And don’t forget to call for monthly COVID-19 updates at: # 845-434-8300 ext. 440 and catch updates in our Community Insider newsletter.

We have already traveled through so much these last 3 ½ months and I couldn’t be more thankful or proud of our entire New Hope family. Everyone has – and is – persevering and rising above. Now we look forward to a steady, safe journey with our new normal in sight. As we all know, crisis can become opportunity and that is what we are determined to experience. So – please – join us in reimagining our future.

Thank you!

Be well – stay safe,



A Message from Debbie McGinness, CEO


I am happy to report we have not had any positive COVID-19 diagnoses in the last 19 days! Most fortunately, all those that were affected are doing well, including our resident who is currently receiving rehabilitation. Although we know we have a long road ahead as we gradually and carefully reimagine our new normal; there is a keener sense of relief and hope.

Although DOH and OPWDD have yet to provide re-opening guidance (which means we continue to maintain programmatic and in-home visitation status); we are actively developing a three-phase re-opening plan that addresses other practices within agency life that can begin to change. This is an inter-departmental plan that will have a targeted start date of mid-June. It is important to note that this critical process must comprehensively and holistically support the highest levels of health and safety possible, for everyone within our New Hope family. Clearly, everyone is eager to resume many activities that have been suspended over these last few months, but we must keep a keen and responsible eye to doing this right and doing it safely.

In support of this process, we are creating two online surveys for stakeholder input that should be distributed via Survey Monkey, within the next week. One survey will center on our Day Habilitation services and the other will center on our Residential services. I encourage everyone to participate in this survey process, as stakeholder input is most valuable to informed and sensitive decision making. More information on this front will be forthcoming. I would also like to note that all are welcome to email us at: feedback@newhopecommunity.org to share thoughts, concerns, questions, etc. This email is checked each weekday and all emails will receive a timely response. Also, the first of each month we will be recording COVID-related update messages 6/01 and moving forward at (845-434-8300 ext. 440). Our Community Insider newsletter and our FB page will continue to be informational resources for COVID-19 updates and I will also send out email blasts as appropriate to ensure a robust climate of clear, transparent and time-sensitive communication. And of course, please, frequently check our website in the coming days and weeks for detailed updates, as well.

On another note, this week our wonderful Hope Farm team (Megan, Sophia and Anthony) potted beautiful plants grown in our greenhouses for delivery to each of our residences. Plants were delivered on Wednesday by our Residential Coordinators and brought smiles to many faces as they received this live gift. In the midst of this crisis a group activity that speaks to life and growth, is surely a welcome thing!

We are most certainly on the brink of multi-phase change and in many ways this is exciting. But, the challenges associated with safely re-opening are many and we are committed to moving forward carefully and responsibly. I am confident all those involved will support this positioning and I thank you for your deep commitment to New Hope Community. As stated before, we are indeed, stronger together and I know we will collectively move through steps that bring us to a new day!




A Message from Debbie McGinness, CEO



In the news today, Governor Cuomo stated that he expects our Hudson Valley Region to begin Phase 1 re-opening this Tuesday 5/26/20. The Mid-Hudson met the sixth of the state’s seven benchmarks Saturday when its average daily number of COVID deaths dipped to five. Our region benefited from the state recently making a key change to the way it calculates this metric. Prior to this change, a region had to have 14 consecutive days of declining deaths. This metric now only requires five or fewer average daily deaths over the most recent three day period. Mid-Hudson met this metric on Saturday. This makes Mid-Hudson eligible for re-opening a few days earlier than it would have been eligible under the prior rules. In addition, the governor stated that the right number of contact-tracers have been identified and will receive training over the holiday weekend online. The projected satisfaction of all seven benchmarks brings us to our new starting point.

Phase 1 includes: construction, manufacturing, wholesale supply chains and select retail (with mainly curbside pick-up). County Executives within our region welcomed this news but state it is now more important than ever to do our part in wearing masks, maintaining social-distancing and washing our hands. Progression through the remaining three phases will be based on metrics data that interprets the status and impact of the virus’ spread in the coming weeks and days.

This leaves just Long Island and New York City as the only places in the state not slated to enter phase one of the reopening process. As this is new information post my 5/22 website update, I wanted to provide this today in real time. It is important to note, that although this represents progress, we have yet to receive any new guidance from either OPWDD or DOH. Ultimately the changing or lifting of any protocols and practices within our New Hope Community must be based on their directives.

I will continue to provide website updates as frequently as needed to ensure all readers remain in the New Hope Community loop, at all times. As noted on Friday, in the near future, we will also be sharing information specific to the engagement of our stakeholders as we move forward. Please be sure to actively check our website and feel free to call or email me if you would like to communicate directly.




A Message from Debbie McGinness, CEO


With pleasure, I continue to share positive news. New Hope Community is coming up on the two-week mark representing no new active cases of COVID-19 for either a person supported or a staff.  In addition, isolation for the two remaining homes noted in last week’s update, have been lifted effective today. Also, the one person hospitalized, as noted last week, is now focusing on rehabilitation. So, on all fronts, we are making progress and feeling thankful.

In terms of our Mid-Hudson region re-opening status; we continue to meet 5/7 required benchmarks. For metric two, we need to show a reduction in hospitalization deaths for another eight days and achieve fewer than five deaths over a three-day average (we’re currently at seven). We also have yet to meet the contact tracer number required of benchmark seven (30 contact tracers per 100K residents or per infection rate). Therefore, we continue to uphold all protocols as has been the case since mid-March. To date, OPWDD and DOH have not issued any new guidance. To stay current with our regional re-opening status please visit: https://forward.ny.gov/regional-monitoring-dashboard

We certainly look forward to fully meeting all metrics for re-opening in the near future and will communicate all changes to our New Hope family in a responsible, time-sensitive manner. As noted previously, stakeholder input is essential to our planning moving forward and we are currently exploring the best communication pathways to support a meaningful exchange. Expect information on this front within the next 7-10 days.

On another “good news” front; all New Hope residences were provided with a wonderful pizza dinner delivery by Anthony Perito of Colonial Family of Funeral Homes, this week. Anthony is such a wonderful, generous friend of New Hope Community and everyone loved this surprise (after all, who doesn’t love pizza?). All New Hope staff also received white circular car window decals this week stating “Not all Heroes Wear Capes”. It’s a perfect way to broadly message our staff’s value.

And on that note – I would like to give a special shout-out to our fabulous maintenance staff this week. They needed to be largely re-purposed outside of our residences during COVID-19 and the entire crew has seamlessly stepped up and adapted to an altered work schedule in an incredible way. Our main building is continuously disinfected from top to bottom, environmental modifications have been put in place, grounds are actively groomed and improved and multiple renovation projects (exterior to our residences) have been tackled with zeal. They are integral to keeping us safe and functional and they are deeply appreciated!

In closing, I’ve been speaking to the chronicity of this crisis and I know that it is only felt more deeply as time wears on. In our Community Insider newsletter today, I speak about ways one can support their best state of mental health (May is Mental Health month). I hope you get a chance to read the column and also take every opportunity to practice good self-care. We all need to feed a healthy rhythm and capture every moment of positivity possible as we push through to better days (and there will be better days!).

Please enjoy your Memorial Day weekend. Stay safe – stay well. And please accept my thanks for your ongoing kindness and support.




A Message from Debbie McGinness, CEO


It is with pleasure, I begin this message with positive news. New Hope has not had a positive COVID-19 diagnosis for either a resident or a staff since last weekend. Currently we have totaled 16 COVID-19 positive residents and 22 COVID-19 positive staff. Most fortunately, all are stable and almost all are fully recovered. As of this morning, only two New Hope residences are in isolation and only one resident remains hospitalized. Thankfully, the resident is not critical and is recovering nicely. In addition, our hardworking HR and training teams have managed to create a flexible, online hiring and orientation process that allowed us to hire seven new staff in April and has positioned us to complete the hire of 11 new staff in May. Also, our nursing and QI departments have worked diligently to continuously identify PPE resources and are actively keeping New Hope staff supplied with all needed masks, face shields, gloves and gowns. Ordering quantities are taking into consideration projected need during the remainder of this year and beyond.

I am also happy to report that our new division, Select Human Services, is faring well throughout this crisis. This is wonderful to see as they are located in Westchester County – an area hard hit by the coronavirus. Despite this, they have been able to steadfastly provide supports and services within their service catchment area. In-person programming in their well-loved Judy Voron Life Skills Studio is now being offered via Zoom and a wide variety of creative classes and activities are being enjoyed by many. Amazingly, to date, there have been minimal positive COVID-19 diagnoses for staff and those they support.

In the midst of positive news and change as noted above, some things do remain the same. New Hope Community continues to uphold all regulations, protocols and practices as set forth by NYS, the CDC, DOH and OPWDD. On May 14th, Governor Cuomo extended an executive order to continue the “New York State on PAUSE” policy, until June 13th – unless regions meet reopening criteria. Currently, Sullivan County (which is part of the Mid-Hudson region) has only met five of the seven benchmarks required to meet the reopening criteria. Please see: https://forward.ny.gov/regional-monitoring-dashboard to review all data, to date, and to track our region’s progress moving forward.

Additionally, guidance issued from DOH and OPWDD remains unchanged. This all means that New Hope Community – for now – continues with all present protocols and practices. However, our planning process to support a safe, smooth and multi-phased reopening, has begun. As I noted last week, we want to hear from our stakeholders as we know such feedback will help inform a plan that is clear, comprehensive and holistic. Although we all look forward to resuming on-site programming, opening our doors to visitation and much more – the navigation of such must optimize health and safety while being sensitive to the impact of multi-level change. We have much to navigate but we will be equipped and are committed to doing it right! Please stay tuned for more information on this front, moving forward.

This week, I’d also like to share some additional resources with everyone. I trust they will prove both informative and helpful as we all continue to do our best to move through this very challenging time.

The first website provides detailed COVID-19 data that is Sullivan County specific. Good to know and understand the hard data for our own backyard: http://www.sullivanny.us/departments/publichealth/coronavirus

This next website provides detailed COVID-19 statewide data. It is an excellent tracker that breaks down information by county in list, table and chart forms: https://covid19tracker.health.ny.gov/views/NYS-COVID19-Tracker/NYSDOHCOVID-19Tracker-DailyTracker?%3Aembed=yes&%3Atoolbar=no&%3Atabs=n

NY Alliance continues to be an excellent COVID-19 resource – information can be accessed here: https://nyalliance.org/coronavirus

The final website contains free mental health supports during this crisis (the specific collection is entitled “Weathering the Storm”). It includes meditations, sleep and movement exercises. You can access a collection of science-backed, evidence-based guided meditations, along with at-home mindful workouts, sleep exercises and children’s content to help address rising stress and anxiety: https://www.headspace.com/covid-19

Lastly, OMH has set up an emotional support helpline at #1-844-863-9314. This hotline provides free and confidential support, helping callers experiencing increased anxiety due to the coronavirus emergency and is staffed by volunteers including mental health professionals who have received training in crisis counseling.

In an email to staff and board members, yesterday, I stated that the positive in all of this speaks to the opportunity to not just build back to what was, but rather, to build back better than before. To quote from the recently released New York Forward plan “today, we have another chance to make ourselves better for having gone through hell”. It’s time for us to reexamine, reimagine and rebuild – in smart and meaningful ways. And I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we can and we will!

Please stay safe and well!




A Message from Debbie McGinness, CEO

5/8/2020 – updated 4:30pm

New Hope Community remains stable and strong. To date, only eight of our 42 programs have been affected by the coronavirus. In each instance, all family members associated with an affected home were contacted by phone. Fortunately, the vast majority of those affected experienced mild symptoms and many have already reached full recovery. As of today, Sullivan County has 1,039 confirmed cases and New Hope Community (both residents and staff) accounts for only 3% of all cases.

It’s been approximately two months since our life as we knew it – changed. And now we are moving through the “sameness” of policies and protocols that have been put into place and need to be upheld, as we continue to safeguard the health and safety of our New Hope family. As we move past a state of crisis acuity and are given clear guidance on re-opening steps and dates (as per NYS, DOH, OPWDD and Sullivan County), we will be reaching out to our stakeholders to receive your valued input as we strive to optimally support everyone within our New Hope family. And as we wait for this transition phase to be announced, I encourage you to reach out to me and/or other members of our New Hope leadership team to share your thoughts, concerns and recommendations.  After all, we are in this together!

Through all of this, I deeply appreciate everyone’s patience, understanding and perseverance. I also appreciate the constant creative flow of resources and activities as we do our best to stay engaged and connected. Please don’t forget to visit our Facebook page to enjoy pictures and posts of all the fun New Hope happenings despite the present challenges. Our staff and all those we support continue to be amazing!

On an entirely different note – this Sunday is Mother’s Day and I can’t end this message without wishing all the moms reading this, a very “Happy Mother’s Day”. I’m sure for many, it will be different than years past, but I trust families will find special ways to celebrate another hero among us – our moms!

Stay safe, be well and hold onto hope. It will get better and we will prevail.

Warm regards,



A Message from Debbie McGinness, CEO


New Hope Community continues to be strong and steady during COVID-19. Recoveries have been celebrated and recovery paths are positive. For this, we are deeply thankful. We look forward to confirming that we have flattened as the viral status in the metropolitan area seems to indicate this downward viral trending. I know we all have fingers crossed!

Although I do this every week, I can’t miss the opportunity to give ongoing applause to our staff and also thank our families and board members. New Hope exists within the embrace of overflowing support, compassion and deep dedication. I am so thankful to be part of such a wonderful team.

As always – my wish to all reading this – be well, stay safe!




A Message from Debbie McGinness, CEO


New Hope Community continues to be stable, strong and actively moving through this COVID-19 crisis. Sullivan County has not yet peaked and the timeframe for the impact of this pandemic is still not fully known but our ongoing demonstration of creativity and acts of kindness, constantly speak to our unbreakable bonds and deep human connection. And it is awesome! Please take the time to visit our Facebook page to see all we are up to as we push forward and persevere. The fun projects keep changing as our art coordinator, Sue Petry and our wonderfully dedicated residential team, share fabulous ways to have fun and show appreciation.

Our talented staff sewing team has added face shields to their production and are wowing us all with their topnotch skills! It’s amazing what one can accomplish in response to real need. They’ve made well over 500 face masks (and the count continues) and provided our new division, Select Human Services with 136 masks for their administrative and field staff.

As we all continue to celebrate the meaning that drives all we do within and for, our New Hope family, I’d like to close this short update with these words:

“In every crisis, doubt or confusion, take the higher path – the path of compassion, courage, understanding and love”.  Amit Ray

Be safe and well,



A Message from Debbie McGinness, CEO


It has been more than a month since our world has been turned upside down by COVID-19. New Hope Community continues to stand strong and work hard to support everyone within our New Hope family.

All required practices and protocols continue to be in place and staff are demonstrating incredible flexibility as they re-adjust, in real time, to all changes occurring. Last Friday evening we put up a large sign by our main campus entranceway that reads “Heroes Work Here”. We say this with heartfelt pride and find it our privilege to make such a statement.

As we continue to push through this crisis, I trust you are doing your best to care for your mind, body and spirit. As so many of us commit efforts to supporting others we must not forget to take care of ourselves.

Please continue to stay safe and well and know that our thanks for your support grows stronger with each passing week.

We will prevail.

Warm regards,



A Message from Debbie McGinness, CEO


This has been an active week for our New Hope family as we do now have a very small number of COVID-19 confirmed cases (less than 2%). Please understand only parties directly impacted can have specific information shared as it is essential that confidentiality be upheld in accordance with all HIPAA required standards. That said, I am happy to report that everyone impacted is doing well and presenting with minimal associated symptoms.

This is not unexpected as the coronavirus has had a widespread impact throughout our state, our country and our world. The good news is, we thoroughly prepared for this possibility and were – and will continue to be – maintaining the highest level of health and safety, possible.

We continue to uphold all CDC, NYS DOH and OPWDD practice standards. Guidance is changing on a daily basis but rest assured, we are staying current to all changes, at all times. I would also like to note that we are fortunate to be maintaining stable staffing patterns and have a good supply of all necessary PPE. In addition, our incredible staff are soldiering forward in their commitment to the many tasks at hand and the wellbeing of all those we support. They also continue to create and share a vast array of engaging and fun activities that can be enjoyed by our entire New Hope family.

It is hard to believe how much all our lives have changed in just the last four weeks. Our rhythm is so different but our purpose and passion are intact. We realize there is much yet ahead, but I believe we have risen to the challenge in the most responsible way and will continue to persevere and rise above. When we finally arrive at a more stable, healthy place I am confident our New Hope family will be a shining example of true resiliency.

To all those reading this message – thank you for your support, your kind words and please continue to stay safe and well!




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.