When the pandemic began, our country, and the rest of the world, faced a challenge unlike any other in our lifetime. The uncertainty of the COVID-19 virus required all of us to modify our lives in ways we could never have even imagined. We quickly realized all of the simple things we previously took for granted – like seeing the smiles that brightened our days at work covered by a mask to protect each other.
Everything changed, and we all did what we could to protect ourselves, our families, and our community. Today, approaching nearly two years into the pandemic, we continue to adjust to this new reality. At Mainstay, we are committed to taking every precaution within our power to protect both the health of our staff and those we support. This includes requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for all employees, unless a medical or religious exemption is granted.
We did not come to this decision lightly. After close consultation with our Board of Directors and executive leadership team and reviewing recommendations from Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we feel this decision is paramount in keeping our commitment to the people we support. As a leader in the field of Human Services, we strongly believe that this requirement will quickly become the norm in similar organizations in our region and around the country.
We’ve already seen the devastating and disproportionate impact that this virus can have on people with intellectual or developmental disabilities. According to the CDC, adults with disabilities are three times more likely than adults without disabilities to have serious underlying chronic medical conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, or a stroke. This unfortunately increases their risk of becoming severely ill from COVID-19.
Due to the nature of our work, our dedicated employees are often in situations where people in their care cannot consistently use masks or where they cannot avoid coming into close contact with others. Therefore, screening, care coordination and vaccination efforts are essential.
I’ve been consistently impressed by the dedication, strength, and sacrifice of so many Mainstay team members, and I know that by working together we will overcome this challenge just like every other. I look forward to the day that we can all walk into work and once again see something as simple as a smile, remembering what it took us to get there.