The New Normal– La Vida Loca for real

Information added on 10/13, 10/7, 8/15, 8/14, 7/18, 6/1, 4/30, 4/19, 4/8, 4/1, 3/24, Scroll down to read. 

10/13

Open Enrollment for Medical Benefits

Hi everyone, I have some very important information for everyone so please read this carefully.

Good News!!  It is time for open enrollment for all medical benefits including dental and vision. It is up to you—you can decline to sign up for any benefits or you can choose to sign up for any combination of benefits you want. If you already have benefits you can leave them as they are or you can change them.

We are required by law to get this news to everyone and we must show proof that everyone was informed.  We must hear back what your decision is or we are out of compliance. You must get back to us by Friday, October 23rd, or you will not be able to continue working.  So please take this seriously.

We have made it as easy possible and the good news is we will not be cancelling direct deposit and requiring all of you to have to come to the office.

So, in regards to medical benefits there are 3 types of staff. Those who are not interested in getting medical benefits, those who already have medical benefits set up with us, and those who want to start receiving benefits.

We will be setting up 2 telephone numbers for you to call and let us know what you want. Please pay attention and do this correctly.

Not interested in having medical benefits? The number to call if you are not interested in signing up for benefits is 657 202-0071. All you have to do is call, tell us your name and number and say you are not interested in receiving medical benefits (this is Lou Pena, my number is 714 848-3800. I am not interested in medical benefits). That simple!! That’s it. At some point we will be getting a document to you so you can sign and get back to us (Docusign or some other way).

Already have benefits or want to sign-up for benefits? The number to call if you do have benefits or you are interested in signing up for benefits is 657 202-0072. All you have to do is call, tell us your name and number and tell us that you already have benefits and you want to keep them the same or that you want to change or add to them (this is Lou Pena, my number is 714 848-3800. I have medical benefits and I want to leave them as is). Or that you want to sign up to begin medical benefits (this is Lou Pena, my number is 714 848-3800. I am interested in signing up for medical benefits). Simple!! We will contact you and we will have you come into the office and sit down with one of us to make changes or to set up new benefits.

The dates for you to come in secure your medical benefits are Thursday the 29th, Friday the 30th and Saturday the 31st of this month, from 9am-4pm.  Please save these dates. They are very important for you. 

Again, this is a big deal. We are required to show proof that every one of our staff were notified and everyone responded. You must call one of the numbers and tell us what you are choosing by Friday, October 23rd, or you will not be able to continue working. You will be suspended. You may be terminated if you already have a final warning. Take care of this today.

10/7

Vote Vote Vote

I am sure that you have heard or read many times that this election is one of the most important in decades.  Many people much smarter and much more knowledgeable than me are saying this is true and I get the feeling they are right. I know I have been of voting age since 1968 and I cannot remember feeling like this in all that time.

So, voting matters.  Election day  is less than a month away. There are many things on the ballot besides who is going to be our next president. I am putting up some information for you to help you do what you need to do in order to get your vote in on time and to help you learn what is on the ballot.

But first– let me say– Stay safe, stay smart. COVID is still here. Just yesterday 44,000+ Americans were infected. In one day. More than 210,000 of us have died. I’m pretty sure we all know someone who has become infected. I know we have staff who have lost family members.  Keep doing it right.  Be safe please—-

So, back to the election—–

Mail-in ballots have already been mailed to every registered voter in California. Be sure to look for it. It kind of looks like junk mail, so please look carefully for it. Everything you need is inside, the ballot where you mark your votes and instructions on how to return it. Once you get yours complete it. Don’t wait too long, mark your votes and return it.

If you are not a registered voter you have until October 19th to become registered. You can register on-line at registertovote.ca.gov This is simple to do, all you need is your driver license number, your social security number and your date of birth.  If you are not registered do it today.

I am sure you have seen the countless commercials and ads everywhere telling us to vote for this proposition or for that one. It can be confusing for sure— do I want Uber drivers to be independent contractors? Is that yes on 22 or a no? Is Proposition 23 about people on dialysis? If I vote yes am I voting to stop funding dialysis or to keep it going? Lots of information for sure. So, this should help—

Go to calmatters.org and click on California Election 2020 Voter Guide and you will be able to read all about every proposition in detail so you can completely understand exactly what you are voting for. And there is other good information there too. We can never be too informed or too knowledgeable.

Thanks for your continued hard work. Know that you are appreciated and that I know that No Ordinary Moments is as good as it is and as respected as it is because of you. Stay safe.

8/15

COVID-19 Safety Guidelines for All Staff

No Ordinary Moments values the health and safety of all of our employees and consumers. No Ordinary Moments will strive to protect our employees and our consumers and we will do whatever we can to ensure our employee’s health and safety during this pandemic.

No Ordinary Moments will comply with any and all local, state, and federal response efforts, emergency response orders, or recommendations from various health agencies, including but not limited to: Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA), California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and World Health Organization (WHO).

The following safety guidelines have been established for all Personal Attendants working in the field with consumers. They have been in effect since March and have been updated as needed.

To ensure the continued safety of our employees and consumers, we ask that all employees comply with the following existing COVID-19 safety guidelines. These guidelines will continue to be updated as needed to ensure that all workers are protected as this pandemic continues to evolve.

During the COVID-19 pandemic it is crucial that every Personal Attendant is able to reach someone immediately. The following information is for you to keep and use when needed:

Call your Program Coordinator—the PC numbers are on your employee badge.

Call the office Monday thru Friday (8am and 4:30pm)  714 848-3800

Call the 24 hour on-call person    714 206-0075.

If no one answers– keep trying, do not text, do not leave a message on the office, or any, voice mail. If it is an emergency and you cannot wait, call 911 and then continue trying to call us.

General Safety

  • Wear a mask.
  • Wearing a mask, washing your hands and keeping your distance  can greatly decrease transmission.
  • Avoid gatherings.
  • When possible, keep at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and others in the home or community setting.
  • Avoid touching your face. Cover coughs and sneezes.
  • Increase ventilation by opening windows.
  • Limit or prohibit meetings and travel.
  • Handle food carefully, avoid sharing of food and water.

Work Behaviors

  • Monitor yourself for symptoms. Do not go to work or care for others if you develop symptoms.
  • Wear a mask when you are at work. Encourage your consumer to wear a mask if possible. Wearing a mask, washing your hands and keeping distance can greatly reduce the transmission of the virus.
  • When possible, keep at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and others. Spend as much time outside as possible. Increase ventilation by opening windows.
  • Practice good hygiene and follow cough and sneeze etiquette – cover your coughs and sneezes using the elbow technique or a tissue. Avoid touching your face.
  • Wash your hands frequently. Wash with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds or clean your hands with at least 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Wear disposable gloves when touching the consumer (dressing, bathing/showering, transferring, toileting, feeding), handling tissues, when changing linens or doing laundry. If gloves are unavailable, wash your hands immediately after touching the client or handling their belongings.
  • Do not share work items (phones, computers, pens, equipment, and other “high touch” instruments). Clean the surfaces of these items as frequently as possible.
  • You should wash your clothes after each shift with the warmest appropriate water setting for the items and dry items completely.
  • If you are a part of a 2:1, 3:1 case, lunches and breaks should be taken separately if possible.
  • Each shift, clean the commonly touched objects and surfaces (counters, doorknobs, bathroom, toilets, phones, keyboards, tables), and equipment (wheelchairs, walkers, canes, communication boards/assistive devices) frequently.
  • Do a thorough cleaning before your shift ends.

What If I Become Sick Or I Am Exposed to Someone Who Has COVID-19?

  • Do not place your own health or anyone else’s well-being at risk. If you have been exposed to COVID-19, or if there may be a possible risk of exposure, immediately notify your Program Coordinator or call the office (714) 848-3800 or call the 24 hour on-call person (714) 206-0075.  Stay home, do not come to work.
  • If you have symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, runny nose, vomiting, diarrhea, notify someone using the numbers above and stay home. Stay home (self-isolate) except to get medical care. Staying at home helps protect the people you work with who may be at greater risk of infection or severe illness from COVID-19. It also helps protect others in the community.
  • Call your healthcare provider for further guidance.
  • If you return to work following an illness, report any reoccurrence of symptoms.

No Ordinary Moments will do whatever it can reasonably do for our Personal Attendants. As of 8/20 No Ordinary Moments continues to pay for any missed work due to a COVID-19 related reason. No Ordinary Moments does not qualify for government assistance due to its number of employees. It is not reimbursed by the government for paying employees for missed work due to a COVID-19 related reason, therefore, this current policy may change in the future. You will be notified if it does.

You are appreciated more than you know. Clearly, this virus is no joke. It has and it will continue to disrupt and damage many lives. Many more will surely die. Be smart. Be safe. It will be reduced to just a nuisance one day in the not too distant future. Be patient. We are strong. Follow the guidelines.

Please do what you can to ensure that it does not reach you or any that you love. If it already has (and I know it has touched the lives of at least 30 of us) I hope and pray that the damage has been minimal. If you have lost a loved one to the virus you are in our prayers and know that if there is anything we can do, we will. We are here for you.

 

August 14

Here is the news for the upcoming payday, Thursday, August 20. We have cancelled direct deposit because there are several important memos, policy changes/additions that need to be distributed to every staff. Because we are so large and spread out all over the county this is the only way we can do it to ensure that everyone gets the information.

We will be distributing paychecks on Wednesday, the 19th and Thursday, the  20th. It is going to be broken up this way:

If you work either Wednesday the 19th or Thursday the 20th, and you work at any of the motels, at the Harmon house, the Willow house, the Tahoe house, the Springdale house or in Harbor Village we will be bringing your paycheck and packet to sign for to you either on Wednesday or Thursday. You will not have to come to the office.

If you work somewhere other than the sites listed above you will be required to come to the office to get your check. Because there will be at least 400 of you we have split it into two days so it does not become more difficult than it needs to be.

If your last name begins with A-L you will pick up your check on Wednesday the 19th.

If your last name begins with M-Z you will pick up your check on Thursday the 20th.

We will have a “drive-thru” system waiting for you at the office and you will drive up, you will be given your check and the packet of paper work, you will sign that you have received the packet and you will be done.

If you have other documents that need to be signed you will be directed to pull to a designated area and one of us will help you complete the paperwork so you can leave as soon as possible.

You will not have to get out of your car and  your interactions will be minimal, thus we will all be remaining in compliance with Covid-19 guidelines.

If you are unable to pick up your check either Wednesday or Thursday only a family member will be able to pick up your paycheck. We will need to receive a phone call from you giving permission for the person to get your check. We must have a name and we may require identification before giving anybody a pay check. No staff member will be able to pick up  a check for another staff member.

If a family member picks up your paycheck he/she will not be given a packet. It is your responsibility to come to the office and get the packet and sign for it.  You must come to the office to pick up and sign for the packet on Friday the 21st, Saturday the 22nd or Monday the 24th. If you do not do so by Monday at 4:30 pm, you will be suspended without pay until you do pick up and sign for the packet. Yes, you read correctly, we will be open for you Saturday between 9am-4pm.

If you get your paycheck on Wednesday you will not be able to cash it until Thursday, the 20th.

It is never a good thing to have to cancel direct deposit and we limit having to do so to just a couple of times per year. But because we are so large and spread out and we operate 24 hours a day, this is the best way to make sure every staff member gets what is required.

Sunday July 18

34,000 Americans have died in the last 48 days. California is pretty much shutting down again. Between Orange County, Los Angeles County and Riverside County (where 99% of our staff live) there are over 200,000 people infected with the virus. And unless you have been in space or asleep for the past few weeks you know that the numbers are climbing faster than when the virus first got going in March.

Since July 1, we have had 13 of our staff test positive for the virus, 8 more who were exposed to the virus by someone very close to them (kids, sister, best friend, girlfriend, etc.).  A father of one of our consumers tested positive and a mother of another one of our consumers tested positive and one of our consumers has tested positive. Since July 1!! 18 days!  Everyone agrees this surge began when restrictions we loosened and restaurants, bars, beaches, etc. were allowed to re-open. Several of my staff who are either infected or were close to someone who became infected told me that they went out drinking in a club, or went to Vegas to party, or went to a large family gathering and then got sick.

We can’t relax. We can’t stop being safe. We can’t pretend this isn’t happening. We can’t act like we can’t continue wearing a mask and doing the other things that will keep us safe.

If you don’t feel well don’t come to work. On two separate days 2 staff came to work (one who knew he had a fever!!) and then called a Program Coordinator and said they were sick and needed to go home. Both later tested positive! Wear your mask. Take it off only if you are eating or drinking or if you go out for your break and you are alone.

As I said in my phone call to everyone, No Ordinary Moments does not get reimbursed for any money spent paying staff for time missed because of the virus.  Only those businesses with between 50 and 500 employees will get reimbursed for any wages paid for virus related absences.  We have nearly 700 employees.  Thus far we have paid in excess of $50,000 to pay staff who have had to miss work for virus related absences. And then I have to pay staff to cover those shifts missed so it is twice the cost.

So, because of the rapidly increasing positive tests that are occurring, beginning July 15th, I will no longer be able to pay anyone who becomes infected or anyone who has to be isolated because of exposure to the virus. If anyone tests positive or has been exposed to someone outside of work and has to be removed from work you will not be paid for the time you miss. You can use any existing sick day hours to get paid by No Ordinary Moments and then you should apply for unemployment.  In some cases  if more time off from work is required and more medical attention is needed (treatments, hospitalizations, etc.) you will be able to receive benefits from our Workers Compensation insurance.  If you have questions please call HR or call me.

If any staff have to be removed from work for two weeks because he/she worked with someone who turns out later to be positive, I will pay for your time off minus whatever sick days you have available to use. If you choose not to use your available sick days I will only pay the days that you miss had you used your sick days. If you have questions please call HR or call me.

The best way for you to not have to worry about missing work? You know the answer. Be safe. Wear a mask– it is so simple and it really keeps you safer than anything out there. Don’t get hung up on whether or not it is constitutional, or legal. You wear it because it can keep the virus away from you and those you love. Wash your hands– often.  Don’t gather in groups. This virus is not going away until everyone in the world gets a vaccine. And that is not going to happen for many more months. Be safe and we all look back at 2020 and remember how crazy life was. Hopefully, without knowing any family or close  friends who died because of the virus.

Monday  June 1

June 1st everyone.  Congratulations, we all made it to see another month. I am hoping each of you is doing well.

Want to hear something absolutely crazy?

On April 30th, 61,669 Americans had died due to COVID-19. As of today, June 1st, 106,582 Americans have died.  Only 550 Americans had died as of March 23. So in just 2 months and a week more than 106,000 Americans have died! The entire 10 years we (America) fought in Viet Nam “only” resulted in 58,220 American deaths. So, clearly we are not done with having to worry about the virus. I know people are being allowed to re-open businesses, and people are being allowed to go to the beach and the United States is beginning to look a little more familiar, like how it used to be before our world changed and I am as glad about that as you are, believe me.  But the reasons that California never became the “new” New York and the reasons the United States has not become the “new” Italy is because of all the things we all did for the past two months. We all became hyper-aware of important it was to wash our hands, to not gather in large groups, to wear a mask, to wash our hands, to not visit others. We made the difference. We, as a person, as a family, as a city, as a county, as a state.

And we need to keep doing our best to be safe and be smart.  100% I believe we should continue wearing masks any time we are outside and there are others around.  We should continue using hand sanitizer and, whenever possible, continue washing our hands.  The virus still exists. The “final solution” will be a vaccine. Until then we need to be careful and smart.  The fact that we need to try to get our country’s economy kick started again and the fact that people want to return to normal cannot mean we forget all that we have learned and all that works.

Work-wise, 1 staff tested positive May 4th.  A consumer who was served by this staff member tested positive with the virus on May 8th.  The staff member quarantined herself and thus far has only experienced mild symptoms but has not yet returned to work. The consumer also only experienced very mild symptoms for a day or two and she has also recovered completely and has since tested negative for the virus.

On Saturday, May 30th,  one of my staff reported that his wife had tested positive so he has been asked to stay home and get tested. Regardless of whether or not he tests positive he will be off from work until, either, his wife (or he if he tests positive at some point)  is cleared.  All staff who work with the two consumers that my staff work with have been notified and the two consumers will be getting tested tomorrow.

I have to be honest, I really expected for there to be many more staff and consumers who become infected.  Everyone of you should give yourself a high five or a pat on the back or a round of applause. The fact that you are wearing a mask at work (and hopefully every time you are outside and others are around) and that you have been keeping your distance and washing your hands has made a huge difference!!  Please keep it up. Again, we are essential workers and the best part of that is that we can keep making our money through this whole ordeal. We do not have to suffer like so many are suffering with no job, no money coming in, no way to pay bills and having to get in long lines for a bag full of groceries. We are blessed. Keep being safe and keep being smart and we will get to the other side without having to miss a pay check.  That really is a huge bonus.

So, keep up the good work. We have reduced the number of terminations due to staff not wearing a mask to almost zero. Huge. Thanks for that.  Thank you for being the caring people that you are.

Thursday April 30

Hi everyone. April 30th already. I first started this page on March 23rd. 37 days ago. 37 days ago the United States had 43,000 cases of the COVID-19 virus and 550 Americans had died.  37 days later the United States had 1,064,572 cases and 61,669 Americans have died.  More than 61,000 Americans died in the last 37 days. Almost 250,000 people have died worldwide.

It is no joke. It is real. And it will be killing until a vaccine is found that can protect us from it. It will still be here, we will just be protected from it. And we are nowhere near a vaccine. It seems everyone is tired of having to stay apart from each other and everyone just wants things to be like they used to be. Going out to eat, going to movies, going to the beach, going to parties, going to clubs and baseball games and basketball games and all the things that made life fun and not boring. But please don’t lose sight of the fact that the virus is still out there, still being transmitted by people. I wrote on April 8th that it looked like California was going to be spared the very high number of deaths and infected people because of all the sacrifices we had all made and all the behavior changes we have made. That still seems to be true but because of the “good news” it seems many people are deciding that we no longer have to be so vigilant, that the virus isn’t so horrible, that it is ok to return to how life used to be. As of today, 31 states will be allowing businesses to open up again, restaurants will be opening again, beaches and parks will be open and large groups will be allowed to gather. Personally, I agree with our Governor who believes that it is too soon to start acting as if somehow the virus is not as deadly, not as present, not as dangerous as it has always been. We can’t stop being smart, we cannot stop being safe.

I wrote on April 19th that one of my male staff had tested positive for the corona virus on April 15th (last worked with the staff and/or consumer on April 14th) and that he had worked directly with 3 other staff and one of our consumers.  I am very happy to write tonight that my guy is all good now, he has tested negative. His symptoms remained on the mild side throughout and I can also say that the 3 staff have all completed their 14 day isolation and none got sick. My consumer has also remained healthy for the past 16 days.

I also wrote that one of our female staff had reported that her mother had tested positive. My staff member had last worked with a consumer the 17th. One other staff member was sent home to isolate for 2 weeks. My staff member is still testing negative and the staff member who was sent to isolate and the 2 consumers involved are all doing well. This Friday (tomorrow) will be 14 days.

Unfortunately, on Wednesday, April 28th, I was notified that another of my female staff had tested positive for the corona virus.  She last worked with a consumer on the 25th. She was told to quarantine for two weeks or until her doctor releases her to return to work. She worked with one consumer and had worked directly with one staff member.  The staff member was told to isolate for two weeks and all the staff who worked with the consumer were informed also, as was the consumer. So we are just beginning a new round of holding our breaths for 14 days.

We are not close to having this behind us. Please continue to be safe, be smart. Wear your mask when at work and when outdoors anytime. Wash your hands. Avoid touching your face. While working, spend as much time as possible outside. Clean the areas that get touched the most.  Come to work, go home and stay home.  We have to continue this life a while longer in order to have the best chance of surviving this. It will end. We are strong enough to get it done.  And don’t lose sight of the fact that millions of Americans are out of work, no money coming in, rent, mortgages, bills being unpaid. Each of you should be able to count on the fact that you can work and get paid all the way through this. We are blessed in that sense. Be safe,

Sunday, April 19

Hello all my heroes. I hope you are all doing well. Real quick, this is a time to look to the future and not so much the recent past. If we spend our time looking back we can easily get sad and depressed and miss the “good old days” when we could pretty much do whatever we wanted. But again, that will only make one sad.  I say it is much better to look to the future. It won’t be forever this way. It will end. We will survive and we will be back on top in the near future. We got this. We are bad asses, we can do this easy.

We are a people that have gotten used to everything happening right now, having to wait 10 seconds is too long. I want it and I want it now! We all approach a red light scanning the lanes so that we can pick the one that has the least amount of cars in front of us. Because if we have to wait for 3 cars to get moving when we could be in a lane that only has two cars we can’t handle it.  We all get weird if the internet doesn’t pop up in two seconds. The toaster seems to take forever to make our toast and forget about lines. No way are we standing in a line! So being in this situation is tough. Made tougher because we do not know the expiration date. No ETA. Nothing that tells us how much longer we need to wait. It sucks. Plain and simple. But I say look forward. We are going to make it, we are going to prevail.

In the past week I have spoken to a few people who have lost a loved one to the virus. Every story was the same and different at the same time. The person was described and although each was very different from the other each was talked about from a loving perspective. There was something that made me feel good as they described the person and at the same time I was looking at, or listening to, someone who was tremendously hurt and sad. I am so sorry if any of you have lost someone due to this virus. Or have ever lost anyone at all.

This past Wednesday (15th), I was told that one of my young men, one of my staff, had tested positive for the virus (I mean no disrespect when I say “my young men” or “my staff”– I see you all as my family). When I heard that I felt like I had been kicked in the gut.  Ever since this virus began I have been afraid of the day I was going to get this news, but I have been expecting it to happen. I was sure it would. I called and talked to him. He was feeling good. He told me he lived with his mom and sister and had a room where he could isolate. He told me he hoped his family would be fine and not get infected. It broke my heart. I’m a fixer. I fix things. But there was nothing I could fix. I could only help in any way I could.  I spoke with him today and he is sick but so far no respiratory problems and not much fever. God willing he breezes through this and thrives again soon. I’m glad I have my faith that allows me to just say “I give it up to You– You have plans and reasons for things that I cannot understand. I will not question You or get angry at You. Your will be done.” If I didn’t this would be a lot harder to handle.

I contacted the 3 staff who worked with my primary staff member directly with a consumer and I told them they needed to be off of work for at least two weeks.  I contacted all the staff who worked with the consumer but did not have direct contact with my primary staff person and told them that they had been around a person (the consumer) who had had direct contact with an infected person. I contacted the consumer’s family.  I contacted the Regional Center.

This is a good time to explain how the system works for you who work with consumers.  My guy who tested positive is going to get paid until he returns to work. The three men who worked directly with the primary staff member were sent home and told to isolate themselves for two weeks (I can’t make them but I hope they are taking this seriously). They will be paid for the next two weeks. If any test positive they will be paid until they are able to return.  The other men who did not have direct contact with the primary staff person but did work with a consumer that the primary staff person also worked with were able to continue working. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Dept. of Public Health all say that if anyone has been around someone who has had direct contact with someone who tests positive they can continue working but they need to ensure that they are practicing smart behavior– masks, gloves, washing hands frequently, etc.  No Ordinary Moment is taking the temperature of those staff before they enter the work site and anyone with a fever will be sent home. If any begin to feel ill they are to call us and stay home. This is how it works. Additionally, we notify the Regional Center of Orange County and let them know a consumer has been exposed and explain the situation. This is the way we will handle things if any more situations like this come up again.

Unfortunately, another situation like it came up last night (Saturday, 18th). One of my female staff called and told us that her mother had tested positive.  My staff lives with her mother and told me that her mother had been ill for a while and had been tested several days prior and the results had just come in. My staff person had also been tested and was awaiting her results.  She lives with her mother and her mother was older and has other health issues. I am fully aware that there will be more phone calls coming. There will be more fear and pain coming. It is real. It is here. Please, please, be safe. Be smart.

As I just wrote, the protocol is that this staff person will be home until her mother recovers completely and is no longer contagious. She will be paid throughout.  I called the one staff that directly worked with her and told her to go home and isolate for two weeks with pay and I called the consumer and all the other staff who work with the consumer and told them to be aware they had been in contact with someone who had been in contact with someone who tested positive. I told them they are allowed to continue to work. Many said they would continue to work with the consumer and a few said they were not comfortable and didn’t want to work with that consumer until the next two weeks come and go. Those that chose not to work will not be paid because they are still allowed to work but are choosing not to. I support their decisions not to work, I understand their reasons and I will do whatever I can to help them get more shifts with other consumers.

I started this by saying hello all my heroes and I meant it. To begin with you are special. The huge majority of people out there would not do what you do everyday. They do not want to work with someone who can be violent, self-injurious, require total care, etc. They say no thanks and go somewhere else. For that alone, you are heroes. Our consumers didn’t ask for this life, for these problems. They need people to take care of them and they hope it is someone that will treat them well and with respect. Someone who will not judge them or make fun of them or get mad at them or who will hurt or neglect them. They may never say “thanks” for being good to them and let you know how much you are appreciated but I will, for them and for me.  You are heroes. To me, to my consumers, to their families, to the Regional Center and to anyone who bothers to stop and see what we do everyday.

But now, in the middle of a pandemic, up against a virus that kills, that is highly contagious and because of it everyone is being told to stay home. To avoid being around people. To basically hide and hope the virus doesn’t find you. In the middle of this everyone of you gets up every work day and comes to work! And while you may not be a nurse on an ICU unit you are still saying “I know what I should be doing to stay safe but my consumer needs me” and off you go. I get it. It isn’t Viet Nam or Afghanistan you are heading towards but it is risky and you are putting yourself and your family at risk. But we are just like the nurses on the ICU unit, or the paramedics, or the doctors who treat the sickest of the sick, we are special.  A very cool man said a couple of thousand years ago “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, for I was sick and you looked after me” and adding to that a not so cool man adds “I needed medication and you gave it to me, I needed someone to be nice to me and you did that, I was depressed and you made me feel better, I was unhappy with my life and you gave me hope, I was scared and you made me feel safe”.   That’s what you do every day. We care. And we serve. We serve. That is our personality. It is who we are. And I love you for it.

Please wear your mask, wash your hands often, wear gloves if necessary, keep your distance, stay outside as much as possible and then go home and hide. We need you. Your family and friends need you. The planet needs you.

Wednesday, April 8

Hey everyone, while there is no reason to celebrate in a big way, there is evidence that everything Gov. Newsom has done and, more importantly, everything you have done and I have done and the majority of Californians have done is working.  California does not seem to be headed towards the number of infected people and the number of deaths as was predicted a couple of weeks ago. The numbers are significantly lower than what was predicted. This is huge for a variety of reasons: obviously it means fewer people will have to get sick and suffer, fewer people will have to die, the hospital system will be able to treat those who are sick and not be overwhelmed like the hospitals in New York are experiencing, it means hopefully people won’t have to die alone lining the walls of emergency rooms like we see every night on the news and it means that when it is time we will all be able to live a more normal life sooner rather than later.

Why is it getting better sooner than the experts predicted? Because we have all listened to what we were told and we have all practiced social distancing, and stayed home, and not gathered, and washed our hands more, and disinfected everything that comes into our house, and worn a mask and gloves, and not gone to visit the elderly members in our family, and accepted the fact that this is a major crisis and we have all stepped up and made sacrifices for the good of the whole and not just for ourselves.  No one will ever know exactly how many people will live because of what we have all done this past month, how many grandparents will be able to see their grandchildren grow up, how many mothers and fathers will be able to see their children get married, finish school, become good adults, how many people will be able to have a relationship with their parents for years to come, how many first responders will be able to keep doing the heroic job they do everyday to keep us healthy and safe.  Real people are going to stay alive because of all we have done. Period. 100% fact.  Let that sink in. Feel good about it.

Because we have to keep doing it. We are nowhere near seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.  But we now know the tunnel isn’t as long as we were told it was. And we know that we can keep doing it right. It isn’t fun, it can be hard, we can’t wait for it to end but we know we got this. We know we can keep on for the remainder of this mess.  Our best scientists are working 24/7 to find a vaccine, to find medications that can keep those infected alive, this monster will be stilled before we reach the point where we can no longer continue to fight.  Martin L. King said, “The task ahead of you is never greater than the strength within you”. Now, that’s what I am talking about. Literally. I have said that in other ways for a long time. We have no idea how strong we are, how much we can suffer and not collapse and quit, how long we can sacrifice without giving up. Challenges bring out areas in our character that we would never know existed if we weren’t facing a fight.

And let’s be honest— we are not facing a war, or starvation, or extermination, or anything close to what many people in different countries face every day, year after year. Stay home? Wash your hands? Wear a mask? Don’t gather? Lines at the market?  No baseball? No UFC? No NBA? Possibly no football? Come on, we can do this. And we need to. The virus is still here. We need to keep being smart. Continue doing what we are all being asked to do, it is working. Keep doing it. I want every one of you to get paid all the way through to the other side of this, no matter how long it takes.

So, what am I doing to help you make it?  In addition to the things I wrote about two weeks ago (seems like a lot longer than just two weeks) the following is being implemented to make us safer:

As you know I have masks for every staff member and every consumer (except for those who live at home with his/her family). Stop by the office and pick yours up.  You must wear your mask when working. No exceptions.

Starting Monday, any of you who work at the Executive Suites, the Key Inn, or a few of the other motels will no longer have to take your consumer out to purchase meals . The Tahoe house, the Willow house, the Harmon house and the Fullerton houses will benefit by this to a smaller degree. We have a system ready to go in which a person will take orders from each consumer and staff and will go and buy meals and deliver them to you. Twice a day.  This will reduce the number of contacts any one will have with the public by hundreds of times per week.   The rest of our consumers live in either apartments or houses that have kitchens and therefore it isn’t necessary to go into the community to buy food twice a day. We are looking at something similar for other types of shopping needs as well.

In addition, thus far we have hired over 30 new staff who came to us from schools or day programs who were shut down due to the virus. We plan on hiring more and we are about to have back to back new hire orientations for those who have submitted applications. I want to have as many people working so you can all be rested and not experience burn out.

I have stuck to my promise to limit visits. Many parents were not happy of course but almost all have cooperated. I terminated a case with a family that we had been serving for years and which was very profitable because the parents refused to cooperate and comply with safe practices. I always say my consumers come first but if I have to choose now with the virus in our midst, I will pick my staff every time.

My hat is off to you, I salute you. You are good people doing what most people would not even consider doing. We will get through this.

Wednesday, April 1

Hi everybody, Lou here. Lots of information to get to you.

Good news first. You will notice that your upcoming paycheck is exactly 3% fatter. And like I said before, once we get past this virus you will all get the additional 3% I promised you, hopefully to include several months back pay for each of you.

April 5th is payday and this year it lands on a Sunday. Because of this and because of the ADP requirements we will not be getting the checks into our office until Friday the 3rd.  And because of the virus we are now mailing all pay checks out, no one can come to the office and pick up a pay check. So, it is possible that you will not be receiving your check in the mail until Monday. I strongly encourage each of you to use direct deposit. The Bank of America on Springdale and Edinger in HB (our bank) offers discounts to NOM staff for opening an account with them.

For these same reasons it is very important that you notify Joey of any changes in your schedule, any late in the pay period shifts picked up or any problems with MakeShift. Do not wait until a day or two before payday to do this. That is too late and will only make you have to wait until after payday to get a payroll correction check out to you.

Ok, now let’s talk coronavirus. It is real. It is out there and it is spreading. From January 20th when the first american was diagnosed until March 11th the coronavirus had killed 11 people in the United States. Between March 11th and March 31st it killed 4,400. More than 800 died yesterday. In the last 24 hours more than 14,000 tested positive!!  The best case scenario is that between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans will die in the next few weeks!! That’s the best case scenario. If people don’t change their behavior and distance themselves and stay home as much as humanly possible it could reach a million Americans dying.

It is being reported today that up to 25% of people who are testing positive never show any symptoms at all, period. They don’t get sick at all but they are positive for the virus which means they are spreading it non-stop. The experts are reconsidering whether or not we should all be wearing a mask. Covering our mouths and nose.

This is not a “if the virus hits” or even a “when a virus hits”. It is here and it is slamming the United States and the number of infected people is going to climb by hundreds upon hundreds every day for the next few weeks. No more pretending that you don’t have to change any behavior, that it isn’t real or it isn’t as bad as what is being reported, that you are safe. Don’t be dumb. I promise in the next few weeks you are going to know at least one person infected with the virus, probably more than one. Family members can get infected and elderly or those with health issues can die. There is no stopping this until a vaccine is created. We can only hope to keep the numbers down and the only way to do that is if every one of us stays away from others. Go to work, stay away from other at work then go home and stay home. Wash your hands often, sanitize places you touch often (door knobs, tables, etc.). They are advising you to sanitize any packages and your mail or let them sit out for a day or two.

The good news is (the very good news is) that none of our consumers have been diagnosed and none of our staff have been diagnosed with the virus. We have made many changes to how we normally do things to make you and our consumers safer. We have eliminated home visits and all visits by family must now occur outside and must be at least 6 feet away from each other with no physical contact allowed. I encourage all of you to spend as much time as possible outside in the fresh air.  Do not allow yourself or your consumer to get close to anyone. We will begin new changes on Monday for those of you who work in the motels.

Please be smart, be safe and do all you can do to keep the numbers down and keep you, yours and our consumers safe. I want all of you to be able to work and get paid all the way through this period, no matter how long it takes.

Wednesday March 24

I have been told that at least  one of our staff have been pulled over by police and were told that our staff need to be in possession of a letter stating that the job we do is considered an essential job by the state. I assumed all we would have to do is show our badge but maybe we need to do more. I will be writing a letter today and we will be mailing it out to everyone by 4pm today. All you will have to do is print your name in the appropriate place and you should be good to go. Remember, your badge is a required piece of your attire. You must have it with you at all times during your shift. You don’t have to wear it but it has to be on you in case you are ever asked to provide work identification. If you do not have a badge call the office and we will set a time for you to come and get a new one.

Also, I want to encourage anyone with long nails to consider the increased risk you are exposing yourself to and possibly exposing our consumers and staff to. Obviously, people with long nails are at higher risk to have germs on their hands. Long nails are harder to keep clean in the area that matter most, the under side of the nail. Every time you touch your face you are exposing more germs to your face and increasing your risk.

Long hair should be tied back as often as possible because long hair increases the number of times you touch your face. People with long hair are frequently wiping their hair away from their face and touching your face is what we all want to be doing less.

Tuesday, March 23

Hi everyone. Lou here. I have decided to add a page for staff (and anyone else who winds up here for whatever reason). My hope is that I will be able to post important and worthwhile information about the COVID-19 that is changing our lives right now and how No Ordinary Moments is adapting and conforming to all of the new directives. And I will keep you informed of any things that are changing in our world of the developmentally disabled.

I will start by pointing out a positive in all of this. If you do as everyone is being asked to do you have the opportunity to work all the way through this mess.  Millions of people have lost their jobs. They went from whatever they were making to ZERO in a couple of days. Just take a ride up Harbor Blvd near Disneyland and you will see proof. Hotel and motel after hotel and motel are closed, shut down. Restaurants who pay huge leases to be close to Disneyland are closed. Disneyland and Downtown Disney are closed. That’s tens of thousands of people who are out of work with no idea when they will go back to work. No idea how they will feed their family, no clue how they will pay rent. That is not true for us. We are considered an essential job. That means if you stay healthy you can keep earning your check all the way to the other side of this. How great would that be?

So, what am I doing to make sure each of you can keep working and be as safe as possible?

1.   We have almost completely shut down the main office. We have a skeleton crew there 4 days a week and that may be cut down to less than 4 days. No one is allowed in the office. All business is conducted outside including any new orientations for new hires.

2.  I have informed the Regional Center of Orange County that No Ordinary Moments will no longer be accepting any new consumers. My thinking is that we have done a very good job at keeping our consumers away from high risk behaviors and areas. Because of the unfortunate accident that happened in early January we canceled all outings so our consumers have primarily been kept in their place of residence or very close to it for 2 months (a silver lining to be sure).  I do not want to accept any new consumers because I would not know where they have been living or who they have been living with. Too risky.

3.  Today, March 23rd, I have contacted all family members of any of our consumers that get visitors and/or go home on home visits and either implemented changes such as visits can only occur outside with no touching or I have canceled visits entirely. This will further our effort to keep our consumers close to just us.

4.  I have instructed all of you to not come to work if you are sick. Use your sick days. If you are sick stay home and get better. It is highly likely that it is just a cold but we do not want to risk it being the virus.

5.  I have reached out to the many schools and day programs that have shut down in order to reach out to the staff that have experience but are now unemployed and I have offered them work. We are running at maximum speed right now, no one is in school and no one is going to day programs. That stretches us very thin. These new staff will take some of the load off of all of you. I need you to get your rest and to stay healthy.

6.  I promise to keep you abreast of everything that pertains to the virus and I will continue being open to doing whatever I need to do to ensure we can keep functioning at a high level. Nothing is off the table. I promise to be honest with you all the way through this. When I learn something I will post it here (and I usually call everyone and tell them too).

So that is what I have done and what I will do. What about you? What is it that you need to do to ensure that you can keep working and drawing a full paycheck through this whole virus episode? What is it that you can do to make sure our consumers and your work peers can get past this without becoming infected? What can you do to make sure no one in your family, especially your children and elderly relatives (parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles) gets infected and has to suffer and possibly die?

Probably the most important thing— you must change your behaviors:

1.  Wash your hands— several times a day. This is so very important. Every thing you touch may have already been touched by someone who is carrying the virus. And what do we do all day long? It is reported that we each touch our face between 2 and 3 thousand times per day!! 2 to 4 times per minute. Start paying attention and you will see that this number is probably low. We constantly touch our face. That is the last thing you should be doing. But no longer touching our face is not that easy. We don’t even think about it so it is hard to stop. That is why you must wash as often as you can, especially after handling things that are not in your home (doors, packages, food containers, toilets, sinks, furniture, etc.). If you cannot wash your hands use hand sanitizer but washing is much more effective at destroying the virus. Wash your hands often!!

2.  Stay home— go to work or to the store or somewhere vital and then go home. This is so important. It is probably the best way to make sure the virus doesn’t spread like it is doing in other countries (Italy) or even other states (New York). Stay home.

3.  Don’t gather. This is not the time to hang out with your friends! You keep hearing “social distancing” and it is important. The virus is spread by coughs or sneezes and even by talking. It is airborne and can travel many feet. Do not hang out in groups. Stay at least 6 feet away from people. Do not have a face to face conversation. I suggest not even looking at them straight on. Talk (and be spoken to) off center as if you are talking to someone standing a few feet to the side of the person you are really talking to. It really is important that you go home and stay home. It may not be fun but if we all did it there will be fewer infected people and it might result in less time living like we are now.

4.  Act as if everyone you come in contact with is infected. Including you. Seriously, how much would you change your behavior if you found out today that you were infected? What if you found out your best friend was infected? Your consumer? The guy behind the fast food counter? If you were infected? Would you have people over? Would you go visit your elderly parents? Go out to eat as much? You know it would change your behavior in a big way. Start acting like everyone is sick. It is going to take all of us acting as if we are all infected to make this infect and kill fewer people and last a shorter amount of time.  And don’t forget, anyone can be sick for up to 14 days and not show any symptoms. So how somebody feels today means absolutely nothing! They may already be sick and may be infecting everyone they come in contact with. Incredibly scary stuff I know, but all true.

The good news, if you change your behavior you can remain healthy. Become vigilant today. Do the above and start counting 14 days. In just two weeks, if you are serious about the changes, you will know you are fine and if you continue you can get through this without being sick and without infecting anyone you care about. I know the only way to be 100% sure is to live in a bubble in a house with no windows far away from anybody but the odds sure get a lot better if you can change your behaviors now.

We are being challenged hard right now. But let’s face it. We are spoiled. We are Americans and we live in southern California. Life is hard but not nearly as hard as much of the world experiences every day. It is normal to not want to change, to not have to give anything up. But this is a big one. This is for real and it is deadly. Odds are good each of you is going to know someone who gets very sick and many of us will know someone who dies during this time.

But we are hard too. We can do what we have to do to protect our family and our loved ones. We can sacrifice parties and being free to do whatever we want for a month or two or until this is over. We are much, much stronger than we can even realize. Many of you already know this about yourselves because of what you have experienced already in your life. Washing our hands, staying home, not hanging out with friends is nothing . Let’s do this right. Keep getting paid and keep your family and friends safe. That’s plenty of motivation right there. More than enough.