A few weeks ago I had a completely different blog topic in mind for this month’s posting. But how things have changed in just a matter of days!
As an organization we find ourselves amid the coronavirus pandemic and in the precarious position of having to take responsibility for the wellbeing of some 500 men and women with intellectual disabilities and the hundreds of team members who support them.
All around us many businesses are now closed, parents are coping with their children home from school, and workforces all over the world are telecommuting. In essence we are all “sheltered in place.”
Our team is dealing with the same restrictions and concerns in the residential homes we operate as all of you are, but doubly so. Our team members also have families of their own depending on them.
The men and women we support in our 55 residential homes are no longer able to leave during the day to work at their jobs, attend our Day Program, or participate in the community.
They are now restricted to their residences and their protection is our highest priority. The responsibility for their wellbeing is in the hands of the Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) at each home who are tasked with shielding them from this unseen virus, taking all the precautions necessary to eliminate the spread of this infection.
As you can imagine, this is a daunting but necessary collective task where all of our team members are pulling together to do everything possible to ensure that the men and women we support are properly cared for.
I would like to acknowledge the strong and effective leadership we have seen in this crisis by both Governor Hogan (Md) and Governor Wolf (Pa). Although Penn-Mar voluntarily closed its Day and Community Programs before it was mandated by the States, both governors have led proactively. This crisis raises huge financial issues for us, but for now, we need to trust that the States and the Federal government will do the right thing when the time is appropriate. Our top priority right now is protecting our greatest resource, those we support and our team members.
It’s easy to lead people when everything is certain, and times are good. But when things get murky and we’re heading to a place where no one has even been before, that’s when we as leaders need to communicate as clearly as we can, listen intently to the concerns of all our stakeholders and stay nimble enough to move on a dime if that’s what the situation dictates.
The saving grace is that we’re all in this together. Our hope is that we will look back relatively soon and be stronger and better than ever from the lessons learned.