In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, RSI has updated and shifted many of our day-to-day practices in an effort to keep our homes, supported individuals, communities, and employees as safe as possible. Most importantly, we have been, and will continue to follow the official guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS).
For additional information on our COVID-19 response, please see below.
RSI’s Preparedness Plan
Our Pandemic Committee, which is made up of heads of departments, our Executive Director, and Director of Health Services has been meeting weekly or more frequently since February of this year. The purpose of the group is to share and follow the most up-to-date guidelines coming from the CDC, DHS, and MDH. In addition, the group continues to collect the most essential information to pass along to RSI employees, especially our front-line direct caregivers.
In the event that somebody in an RSI home, either resident or staff person, has a confirmed case of COVID-19, our Pandemic Committee’s continued work in securing resources, determining the best use for existing RSI settings, and disseminating vital information will be a crucial part of our response.
If there is a confirmed case at RSI, we will immediately report it to the Minnesota Department of Health and then get in contact with guardians, case managers, care teams, and anybody who has had potential exposure to the infected individual.
RSI has several unused residential settings that could potentially be used to house individuals who have a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis or to meet additional needs as they arise. At this time, we are remaining flexible in regards to what those spaces may be used for.
Request a copy of RSI’s Preparedness Plan
To request a digital or physical copy of our company COVID-19 Preparedness Plan, please reach out to Katie at email@example.com or call us at (218) 740-7603.
RSI’s Vaccine Plan
We have been told to expect to have vaccinations for COVID-19 to start at RSI in January 2021. This wonderful news comes with the need to begin planning for the logistics needed to make sure everyone who wants a vaccine can get one.
The first tier of phase 1A in the vaccination distribution plan included hospitals. The second tier includes skilled nursing facilities and assisted living programs. Vaccinations for tier two settings have begun. Tier three distribution is for people who live or work in group homes. There is not a precise date for when vaccinations will start in tier three settings, but we are currently working with our pharmacy to determine how many vaccines we will require for our staff and the people we serve in preparation for when the vaccine is available to us. We have also begun to record consent for vaccination from the people we support and employees.
What is being done in homes to keep supported individuals and employees safe?
The safety and health of the people we support and their caregivers is our first priority. Our team of Registered Nurses and Licensed Practical Nurses continue to provide oversight and guidance to all direct care staff at RSI. In addition to restricting all non-essential visitors to our homes, employees working in RSI homes are following these practices:
- All employees performing direct care are provided with surgical face masks and eye protection and wear surgical masks and eye protection upon entering an RSI home or private home settings.
- All employees are required to have their temperature taken before entering RSI homes, and may not enter any RSI location if they are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19.
- All direct care employees have received “Bloodborne Pathogens and Infection Control” as part of their initial training. In light of COVID-19, employees have received additional training on handwashing, infection control, and RSI’s COVID-19 Preparedness Plan.
- Our facilities team has been hard at work purchasing and procuring donations of cloth face masks and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for employees.
Are RSI offices still open?
Our main office in Duluth and regional offices in Virginia and North Branch continue to be open from 8:00am-4:30pm Monday through Friday. We are asking that non-essential visitors do not go to our offices at this time.
Are visitors allowed at RSI homes?
Because COVID-19 is so easily transmittable, RSI discourages visitors in a person’s home during the pandemic and especially when the Governor has issued an Executive Order restricting gathering and socializing with people outside of your home. Staff recommend and help to arrange alternative means to connect with family and friends that may include virtual visits via FaceTime, Zoom, etc., phone calls, texts, email, sending a personal message or card through the mail, sitting outside at least 6 feet apart, or visiting through a window. For those who choose to disregard Executive Orders that may be in effect, RSI will need to implement a 14-day quarantine (or as otherwise indicated by the latest CDC and MDH guidance) upon a person’s return from a social gathering. What this will look like will depend on the setting and the people involved, as determined by RSI nurses and state guidelines.
How is RSI keeping offices and workers safe?
Employees who work out of RSI offices are following the guidelines that have been determined by our Pandemic Committee, including the following practices:
- Providing hand sanitization stations at all office entrances
- Limiting the use of shared common office spaces
- Some are working from home when feasible
- Wearing masks while in common spaces or for in-person meetings
- Utilizing technology whenever possible to reduce in-person meetings and disinfecting meeting spaces before and after each use
What kinds of support is RSI offering to employees at this time?
Providing a range of support to our front-line staff is a crucial part of our pandemic response plan and retention efforts. Most importantly, we continue to share the most relevant and up-to-date information on COVID-19, as well as providing the training and support needed to make our homes as safe as possible for the people who live and work in them.
- The RSI Board of Directors has permanently increased wages by $2.00 per hour to recognize the essential services our employees provide. In the event that RSI has a home with a positive COVID-19 case, employees working at that location will receive an additional $3.00 per hour pay increase.
- The RSI Board of Directors doubled our yearly employee recognition budgets for caregivers to recognize the essential role they are playing in communities and in the lives of the people we provide services to.
- RSI leadership continues to share information on childcare, community services, Centers of Disease Control recommendations, and other relevant information related to COVID-19 and RSI’s response plan with all employees.
- We are hosting weekly informational call-in meetings for all office workers, managers, and supervisors that feature our Executive Director, Health Services Director, and other leadership who share up-to-date information about RSI’s response plan.
- Under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, employees are eligible to receive up to two weeks (80 hours for full-time staff, or a part-time employee’s two-week equivalent) of paid sick leave when unable to work due to a COVID-19 qualifying reason covered under the act.
Is RSI continuing to hire new employees?
Yes, RSI is continuing to hire both temporary and long-term direct care staff. We have introduced short-term work opportunities for people in our communities who are experiencing a loss or reduction in their regular employment.
Employment interviews with our Human Resources team are now being held over the phone or video conference to limit direct social interaction. We have also temporarily canceled our weekly walk-in interviews at all of our offices. Potential employees are provided a face mask for all RSI site visits.
To reduce gatherings of new employees at RSI offices for classroom trainings, our HR team has revised our training program. Orientation and medication administration courses are scheduled for multiple times per week to ensure small or one-person class sizes. All other essential trainings have been moved to an online platform.
How can I help?
We are still accepting donations of long-sleeved 3XL or larger dress shirts. To make a donation, please contact us at (218) 727-2696 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit our blog to learn more about our donation project.
RSI also accepts donations to our Activity Fund for Supported People with GiveMN. Visit our donation page to learn more about our fundraising efforts.
For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, please refer to the following organizations:
If you would like to reach out to us with questions, comments, or concerns regarding COVID-19, please feel free to contact us at:
or by phone at (218) 727-2696.