COVID-19 has entered our region and is quickly changing life for each of us.
In so many conversations this week, I have been repeatedly struck by how incredibly important Community of Hope’s mission is in supporting many vulnerable families in DC, especially during this public health emergency. There has been no similar time in our 40 years of caring for families.
We continue to be the safety net for so many patients and families experiencing homelessness in the District. We are working closely with our government partners in all of our planning. We seek to make sure we are doing our utmost to support patients and families during this time, while balancing the safety of our staff, volunteers, and partners.
Here is critical information for our community:
- Health Center Patients –
Changes to Community of Hope Dental, Emotional Wellness, and Medical services due to COVID-19 as of March 17, 2020:
- Medical Services: We are asking all patients to call before coming to COH! We are cancelling normal well exams and non-urgent visits to stop the spread of germs. Our medical staff will focus on telephone triage and handling sick visits. We will continue to see patients such as newborns and pregnant patients in isolated areas. We will also provide contraception and other urgent visits and tests. It is important that we keep people out of the ER as much as possible. We have staff prepared to handle telephone calls for screening and to refill prescriptions and provide advice. We have limited capacity for COVID-19 testing, but can do one if your provider thinks it’s needed. We are accepting new patients if they are currently sick to ensure that everyone has a primary care provider. We are tracking appointments that are cancelled and will let you know as soon as we can return to normal scheduling. If you have any questions, please call for advice.
- Dental Services: COH will ONLY provide emergency visits after we have finished urgent dental work starting March 17 until further notice. Please call us at 202.540.9862 if you are in pain, think you have an infection, or have another problem. We will provide an appointment if it is an emergency. We want to keep you out of the ER. Our dentists can provide support if you have a question or concern by phone.
- Emotional Wellness Services: COH is moving our counseling appointments to telehealth visits to prevent our clients from being exposed to germs. COH will provide therapy via Zoom, Facetime, or telephone if necessary starting March 19. Please call us at 202.540.9857 if you need support. We will provide short term counseling and will accept new clients as well. We may be able to provide update medication remotely, depending on the situation.
Changes to Community of Hope Wellness programs due to COVID-19 as of March 27, 2020:
- COH is temporarily unable to offer CenteringPregnancy® visits to our prenatal patients due to coronavirus safety concerns. We are still providing prenatal visits and care for newborns in isolated spaces in our clinic.
There is more information below for our patients, especially for those in high-risk categories.
- Housing Families – We will continue to provide safe and dignified supportive housing at all of our sites. We have added hospital-grade cleaning protocols and are supplying the immediate needs of our families. We will pause some of our auxiliary programming for child and are adapting our group meetings.
- Volunteers and Mentors – We will pause our children and family engagement activities and will reconsider continuance by April 3rd. Volunteers, you will be missed, so please stay tuned for returning. Mentors, look out for a message from Lauren Cranman, Volunteer Manager, for further instructions.
- Donors – Your gifts are welcome at any time and each makes a tremendous difference for the people who rely on Community of Hope. Consider making donations of household goods or activities for children while they are out of school.
Our immediate focus is on meeting the needs of our families. But we do believe that this crisis will have long-term ripple effects on the people we serve – lost income and increased worry, stress, and anxiety. While strong and resilient, they are people who already face a lot of challenges. We are in this with them for the long-haul and will work as a community to address the long-term impacts.
There is no more important time for us to be a Community of Hope to our patients and families. We ask that, as you take care of your families in this strange moment, that you think kindly of families facing homelessness and people living with health challenges. We will be back in touch with you as we understand further implications including financial impacts and changes to other programs and events.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.
Kelly Sweeney McShane
President and CEO
Community of Hope is following guidelines from the CDC and DC Health. DC Health reminds residents to take the same measures to prevent the spread of the flu and other viruses.
- Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same. COH has flu vaccine available. Call to let us know if you want a flu shot.
- Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds multiple times a day. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand gel.
- Cough or sneeze into a tissue and then throw the tissue away. If tissue is not available, use your elbow or upper sleeve. Cover your coughs and sneezes to prevent others from getting sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Keep surfaces clean by wiping them down with a household disinfectant.
- Stay home if you are sick to protect others from the cold, flu, or Coronavirus 2019.
Please call our call center at 202.540.9857 before you come to any location if you are having the following symptoms:
- Shortness of breath
Our team will call you to assess your symptoms and treat you over the phone. We will advise that you stay home if your symptoms are mild to moderate. This will help protect others from getting your virus and lower your exposure to other germs. We will give you self-care tips you can do at home. If we ask you to come to the clinic, we will give you a mask and move you quickly to a closed room to be assessed further. If your provider believes that you may have COVID-19, we will be able to do a test. Thank you for helping to keep yourself and the community healthy – and preventing new cases of the common cold, flu, and Coronavirus!
Further Information for Patients Are Higher Risk.
The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that some people are at higher risk of getting very sick from this illness. This includes:
- Older adults
- People who have serious chronic medical conditions like:
- Heart disease
- Lung disease
People in this group are encouraged to avoid cruises and nonessential air travel. They are also encouraged to avoid large crowds. When you go out in public, keep away from others who are sick, limit close contact and wash your hands often. Try saying hello with a bow, an elbow bump, or a foot tap rather than a handshake or hug. To the extent possible, avoid touching high-touch surfaces in public places – elevator buttons, door handles, handrails, handshaking with people, etc. Use a tissue or your sleeve to cover your hand or finger if you must touch something. You can call COH for renewals of prescriptions and medical advice if you are worried about coming into the clinic.
Further updates on this situation may be found here: