President and CEO of Metrolina Association for the Blind, Inc. (MAB)
Here at MAB the health and safety of our community is of the utmost importance. Our sympathy and thoughts go out to those impacted by the COVID-19 / Coronavirus. To protect our community, visitors, volunteers, clients, staff and our community in general, have taken several measures. Many are based on direction provided by the World Health Organization (WHO): https://www.who.int/, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): https://www.cdc.gov/ and Government officials, NC Public Health https://publichealth.nc.gov/.
On January 30th, 2020 the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak a public health emergency of international concern. Although we are not required to travel internationally to conduct business, we instituted the policy of having any staff that traveled outside of the country to self-quarantine for 14 days after returning to the United States. After the 14 day period, proof must be provided from a medical facility confirming that they are not exhibiting symptoms of the COVID-19 prior to returning to work.
On March 11th the WHO characterized COVID-19 as a pandemic. MAB has a business continuity plan in regard to pandemic.Although we did not have any staff exhibiting symptoms, we initiated our mitigation strategies to minimize impact. This began with actions to conduct an overnight and full day of stress test to assure operational continuity and communications.
We then initiated the suspension of our Vision Rehabilitation Services being performed at our facility in Charlotte, NC, as well as, any offsite face-to-face activity with clients. This included cancellation of Low Vision Clinic or Rehabilitation / Therapy appointments and home visits and the suspension of the following department activity through April 30, 2020:
- Case Management
- Low Vision Optometry and Therapy
- Vision Rehabilitation Therapy
- Assistive Technology Training
- Independent Living Skills Training
- Orientation & Mobility Training
- Groups, clubs and recreational activities
- In Person Fundraising Events
All staff able to conduct business remotely will work from a remote location and are unable to access the MAB offices.Any exception must be approved by the President and CEO of MAB.
MAB Staff that are non-essential for Accessible Document Services (ADS) business continuity that are able to continue to work remotely are required to do so. MAB Staff that are unable to work from home and that have been cross-trained for ADS now report to this department.
Additionally, all external and internal meetings are cancelled or postponed until after April 30, 2020. All external visitors (vendors, volunteers and non-essential personnel) have been banned from entering the MAB facilities. All communications or meetings will be conducted via remote communication tools.
All MAB employees currently reside in North or South Carolina.Governor Roy Cooper (NC) and Henry McMaster (SC) closed schools throughout these states. To minimize absence due to school closings, MAB has hired a tutor and activities monitor. MAB has converted a large conference room to provide service for MAB parents for support, as needed due to school and child-care service closings.
The MAB ADS department will continue to operate business as usual.All ADS staff and essential support personnel for this service will continue to work from the Charlotte, NC office.
All employees have been advised to stay home if they are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 and practice good hygiene as identified by the CDC.
All employees who arrive at work exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms will be asked to return home.
All personnel for package delivery or mail services have been banned from entering the MAB building. All deliveries or pickups are conducted 6 feet from the MAB entry door while being viewed from cameras or office windows. A bin for any necessary signature devices or materials is used to conduct necessary transactions and sanitized appropriately. Staff, after touching external devices, doorknobs, packages, must wash their hands or use approved sanitation products and sanitize bins / packages following CDC recommendations prior to returning to the work area.
The ADS staff has been advised to maintain a distance of 6 feet from one another and to continuously sanitize their work area, wash their hands and avoid touching their face.
An additional 3 months of supplies, which MAB typically keeps in stock for operations, will be maintained until further notice.
MAB will continue to maintain sanitation standards and sanitary cleaning practices for our facility per guidelines provided by the CDC and MAB.
Communications protocols have been put in place and tested to assure phone and text messaging procedures are working. All remote employees will continue to monitor and respond to office voicemail.
MAB leadership will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and take necessary precautions to preserve the integrity of controls, practices, security and safety. At this time, we are thankful to have a healthy staff and to be able to continue to operate our ADS services as normal. We recognize, in the current national environment, that the situation is evolving on a daily basis and we will continue to follow orders and guidelines set by government officials and appropriate agencies for best practice. Our intent is to continue to adapt to each situation with the goal of keeping our overall community safe and healthy. In the event of a change in this situation all necessary personnel will be notified.
We appreciate your understanding and support and encourage you to reach out with any questions or concerns. Thank You for your partnership with MAB.
President and CEO, Metrolina Association for the Blind, Inc.