For a mission-driven organization like Boundless, a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic presents a special challenge: how do we balance our mission against the health and wellbeing of our staff? What happens when ‘serving the mission’ doesn’t seem to align with ‘supporting your team?’
So, here are some thoughts on how best to walk that line:
- Gov. DeWine has identified Boundless services as “essential health and human services,” which means that the services we provide are critical — even to the level of being necessary for the health and safety of the population in our care.
- Behavioral health services have also been identified as ‘essential.’ In chaotic times like these, the kind of behavioral health support we provide is even more critical for the already at-risk population that we serve.
- Data surrounding the coronavirus is evolving as testing expands. What we know is that of people infected in China, 80 percent had a mild infection, 15 percent had a severe illness, and about 5 percent were critical. These numbers, however, are skewed to higher risk because of a population with a very high percentage of underlying illnesses.
- In 2020, thirty-four million cases of influenza occurred in the U.S., with 350,000 hospitalizations and 20,000 flu-related deaths. The latest studies indicate that the actual death rate of coronavirus could turn out to be similar to the flu, below 1 percent.
- Coronavirus isn’t a death sentence any more than the flu. What IS important, though, is that coronavirus won’t go away until a vaccine/cure is found, which means that ‘spread’ could continue and multiply with exposure.
So, it’s not pretty, and it isn’t smooth sailing, but Boundless is providing essential services to a very at-risk population, and it is our job to provide those services. We must continue to live our mission during this time of pandemic crisis. We must also continue to do everything in our power to minimize risk for our staff and clients while providing these necessary services. Through lockdowns and quarantines, creative engineering, proactive controls, the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), frequent handwashing, telling staff to stay at home if sick, and other hygiene practices, we’re doing whatever we can to keep people safe and healthy at work.
It is also important to note that despite suspending some of our programs, we have thus far retained all employees. We are still learning more about what support the federal and state governments plan to offer large employers like Boundless and do not intend to make any changes to staffing levels for at least the next two weeks. We are currently working with leadership and management to move and re-direct staff from some of those suspended programs to support other areas. For example, DODD has approved new work rules allowing agencies to move staff from day programs, to help cover critical residential operations. This is also a great time for staff to complete annual training requirements, complete quality assurance activities, or to deep clean their work areas. Please make sure you are in ongoing contact with your supervisor regarding your assignments if you are not currently doing your regular duties. The executive leadership team will continue evaluating our staffing assignments every two weeks and will keep you up to date should these plans change.
People helping other people is what Boundless is about, and I expect that staff will find ways to pitch in and support each other in any way possible. Boundless is also supporting staff by being as flexible and supportive as we can with PTO for coronavirus related illnesses. We are also working with local daycare providers to find space and funding for staff with kids at home during extended school closings and breaks.
The bottom line is that we do this because we believe in our Boundless service mission. That service mission is literally a lifeline for many, and providing those services is a job that cannot go away because of a crisis. Boundless will weather COVID-19 so long as we embrace the necessity of our work, and continue to support each other in any way we can.
And one day soon, the sun will come out. We will dust ourselves off and pick up where we left. We will continue to grow and to be the best organization of our kind in the U.S.
Be safe, stay healthy – you are the BEST!
Patrick Maynard PhD
I Am Boundless, Inc.