Letter to participants and families
Dear Current and Future Participants & Parents/Guardians,
The coronavirus pandemic is placing great strain on the fabric of our society. The threat it poses to our financial welfare, social cohesiveness and physical and emotional well being is very real and will likely be with us for the foreseeable future.
We understand the families we work with are still in crisis and temporarily postponing all admits may not be our best way to support them. However, Evoke is committed to “Flattening the Curve” as well as mitigating the risk to our participants and employees.
Along with Evoke’s already existing procedures, Evoke has implemented additional measures in an attempt to further address threats posed by COVID-19. Some of these measures are described below, including Evoke’s Statement of Reassurance, Evoke’s Admits to the Program and Postponing all Non-essential visits to the field.
Evoke’s response to this novel disease is itself an ongoing process, which is why we’ve created this webpage allowing for ongoing updates. Evoke’s efforts to mitigate risks to participants are not infallible and we feel it is important for you to understand this for at least two reasons: First, even with the referenced measures, the risk of infection still exists. Second, given human fallibility, Evoke cannot guarantee that the referenced measures will in all cases be undertaken, or even if followed, Evoke cannot guarantee that they will be successful in preventing the spread of COVID-19. For example, while Evoke has instructed employees with flu-like symptoms, such as a cough, not to come to work or go into the field, an employee, may, at least initially, misjudge his symptoms. Or, even though employees have been instructed to notify their supervisor if they have a family member at home with COVID-19, the COVID-19 diagnosis may come after the employee has already been exposed to the virus.
Health authorities have recommended “social distancing” as a preventative measure. While this measure is practiced with participants in the field to a limited degree, the dynamics of group therapy coupled with maintaining appropriate supervision and programming procedures, undermine such measures. Additionally, Evoke has no control over the transportation of participants to and from its programs which are handled by parents, guardians and third-party providers and risk reduction efforts they may or may not undertake.
Evoke will continue to review its protocols and may make additional changes to its approach. And please know participation in an Evoke program will involve some risk regarding COVID-19 infection that is not easily quantifiable. You, as a parent, guardian, and/or participant must weigh such risk against the potential benefits of you or your child participating in an Evoke program. As you decide whether to enroll your child in or withdraw your child from, an Evoke program, we encourage you to consult with your family doctor or other healthcare professionals.
Evoke Therapy Programs
Update from April 3, 2020
New Admits & Maintaining the Health of Current Participants and Employees
Evoke continues to accept new admits on a limited basis and starting the week of April 13th, 2020 we will accept admits only on designated days of the week. All incoming participants will be required to enter an Observation Group consisting only of those new admits. This group, including its staff, will begin on the same day, remain together for 14 days for observation of any symptoms, and will then be placed in their individually assigned groups.
Parents and/or young adult participants agree that Evoke reserves the right to have any participant who exhibits any COVID-19 symptom during this 14 day observation period (or during any time throughout their program) to be immediately discharged and require the participant to be picked up from the program within 48 hours.
We continue to strongly encourage all families to travel to our field offices by vehicle. This allows for the least potential interactions with other individuals. We understand this is very difficult for some families. Beginning April 13, 2020 participants will be allowed to fly to Evoke’s field office locations if circumstances dictate and upon approval by Evoke. If a participant is flying, we ask families and participants to take every measure to ensure their own and others’ safety and follow CDC’s Advisory Regarding Travel and How to Protect Yourself.
Update from March 26, 2020
Evoke’s policies and procedures already included several healthcare precautions regarding employees, including any employees with flu-like symptoms are required to not come to work and will not go to the field. Here are some of the additional measures Evoke is taking in regards to our employees’ health.
On March 17th I informed all Evoke employees that any employee who has had any one flu-like symptom, including a fever, cough, shortness or breath, etc. within the last 14 days will not be allowed to work. Furthermore, if an employee has been in contact with someone with COVID-19 or has a fever or shown any symptoms within the last 14 days, they will not be permitted to work until they have been quarantined and symptom free for 14+ days.
On March 18th we implemented the protocol that all essential individuals going to the field have their temperature taken. Any employee exhibiting any one flu-like symptom (fever >99 degrees F, cough, respiratory distress, etc.) is sent home and unable to return to work until they have been in self-quarantine and symptom-free for 14 days. Additionally, all field instructors (and participants) in the field have their temperatures taken every other day.
Evoke also requires all essential individuals going to the field (back-up, field instructors and therapists) to sign a contract acknowledging they are following Evoke’s travel bans and the below requirements. This acknowledgment is signed each and every time before anyone is allowed to go to the field.
- Have followed all federal and state guidelines regarding Covid-19.
- Have practiced social distancing and stay-at-home orders.
- Have not been in a group larger than 10.
- Have not traveled during their off shift other than to and from work to home.
- Have not flown on an airplane or been in an airport or other places of transit in the last 14 days.
- Have not eaten out at a restaurant.
- Have not been in the presence of anyone who was presenting symptoms as outlined by the CDC in the last 30 days.
- Have not felt any symptoms in the last 14 days as outlined by the CDC.
Update from March 26, 2020
Additional Measures to Participant Admits to the Program
Evoke continues to take new admits on a very limited basis. The service we provide is not elective for these families. Evoke is providing a service that is a medical necessity. It would be a disservice for us to completely shut down or not provide these families the mental healthcare services they need.
However, there are ever-increasing risks associated with the COVID-19 virus and we must continue to be responsive in our preventative measures. The following procedures are in addition to and extensions of the measures outlined in the notice dated March 18, 2020 “Re: Participant Admits to the program”.
Evoke is continuing to require all incoming participants to drive to the respective field office to avoid air travel. Some have expressed concern that this is contrary to limiting exposure or restating they have heard air travel is safe. Evoke continues to feel having participants driven is currently the best way to control and minimize the overall interactions a participant has with other individuals. This requirement will remain in place at least until April 10, 2020.
Admit frequency will continue to be limited and/or restricted to certain days at each location. This helps facilitate the additional supervision required to ensure appropriate medical screening and observation.
Participant screening and acceptance is now even more restrictive and includes additional items like the participant’s current geographic location, recent travel, the current and recent health of the participant, who they live with, and individuals they have publicly encountered in the last 30 days, among others.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to change day-to-day we remain committed to considering and implementing additional restrictions, extended freezes or limits on admits for days or weeks, as well as other risk management measures.
Thank you again for the understanding and all the outpouring of support we've received from families and referring professionals.
Update from March 18, 2020
Evoke Indefinite Postponement of Non-essential Visits to the Field
In an effort to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 to our participants in the field Evoke will be suspending all non-essential visits to the field indefinitely. This includes parent visits, referring professional visits and any non-essential employees. We are very sorry for any inconvenience this may cause. Evoke will let families know as soon as possible when this restriction has been lifted. We will do our best to facilitate communication through a satellite phone and/or video conferences when appropriate.
Thank you for your understanding.
Update from March 18, 2020
Evoke Admits to the Field
During this unprecedented COVID-19 Pandemic, Evoke understands the families we work with are in crisis and temporarily postponing admits might not be the best way to support them. However, Evoke is committed to “Flattening the Curve” as well as mitigating the risk to all our participants and employees.
Consequently, Evoke is requiring all incoming participants to drive to the respective field office to avoid air travel, which causes increased travel through major cities and increased direct interactions with other individuals. This requirement will remain in place until April 1, 2020. Furthermore, admit frequency will be limited at each location to help facilitate the additional supervision required to ensure appropriate medical screening and observation.
Thank you for your understanding and for doing your part in slowing the spread of COVID-19.
Update from March 13, 2020
Evoke Postponing Non-essential visits to the field
In an effort to mitigate the risk to our participants in the field Evoke will be suspending all non-essential visits to the field for at least the next two weeks. We are very sorry for any inconvenience. We will do our best to facilitate communication through a satellite phone or video when appropriate.
Thank you for your understanding.
Update from March 3, 2020
Evoke’s Statement of Reassurance regarding Coronavirus
The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is now verified by the CDC to be in the United States and spreading through community transmission. It is also important to note the immediate health risk to the general public is low.
The symptoms of novel Coronavirus may appear 2-14 days after exposure and are similar to seasonal illnesses, a fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath. On their own, these symptoms are not worrisome and should not cause alarm. However, it is important we minimize the potential spread of all illnesses to employees and participants. As such, Evoke will continue to enforce its regular universal healthcare precautions which include;
• Employees with flu-like symptoms, cough, fever, etc. are required to not come to work and will not go to the field with the participants.
• Participants and employees wash hands with soap and water prior to all meals, meal preparation and after using the bathroom. Participants and employees also use hand sanitizer throughout the day.
• Participant & employee cups and utensils are sterilized each day by boiling. Food bins and water containers are sanitized weekly and Lysol wipes are used to wipe down group gear.
• All participants and employees wear vinyl gloves when preparing food.
Additionally, Evoke has implemented the following measures;
Perform routine environmental cleaning
Routinely clean all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace and in the field such as workstations, doorknobs, water bottles, group, and individual gear. Evoke is also providing disposable disinfectant wipes so that commonly used surfaces can be wiped down by employees before each use.
Increased travel restrictions to the field
Employees, parents and other visitors who have interacted with someone with COVID-19 within the last 30 days, or shows acute respiratory illness symptoms (i.e. cough, shortness of breath) or a fever upon arrival at Evoke’s office will not be allowed to go to the field, immediately removed from contact with other individuals and sent/asked to leave the facility. Participants meeting these criteria will be isolated from other participants and employees until they are cleared to enter the program.
Employees who are well but who have a sick family member at home with COVID-19 will notify their Evoke supervisor and refer to CDC guidance for how to conduct a risk assessment of their potential exposure. If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, Evoke will inform fellow employees of their possible exposure to COVID- 19 (and participants and their families if applicable) and maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Employees exposed to a co-worker with confirmed COVID-19 should refer to CDC guidance for how to conduct a risk assessment of their potential exposure.
Thank you for your support and understanding of these measures and please direct any questions to the medical department at the Evoke program you work with.