The past 16 months of dealing with COVID-19 and its unknowns have been challenging, but they have also reinforced one major point. Concordance has an incredible group of team members, investors, and supporters who are committed to our mission.
As our team navigated COVID, we made changes to both programming and operations with three key principles in mind:
- Protect the health and safety of team members and participants
- Continue to offer services
- Ensure long-term financial viability of Concordance
Our team members, participants, and their families were, and still are, our top priority, and we focused heavily on their safety and productivity throughout the year. We are proud to report that Concordance was able to keep our doors open throughout the pandemic.
We immediately implemented a 10 Point COVID-19 Response Plan to minimize risk while keeping our doors open. We asked non-participant facing team members to work from home for the majority of the year and rotated them into the office one day every two weeks. Team members and participants in the office were screened daily upon arrival and asked to wear masks inside the building. We hired a cleaning service on-site throughout the day, continuously wiping down door handles and hard surfaces with EPA-approved chemicals specifically proven to disinfect against the coronavirus. Team members were tested for COVID every three weeks.
While telehealth is a great option for many people, research shows that our participants needed in person treatment and programming. With the rise in substance use, overdoses, and mental health disorders reported nationwide throughout the pandemic, we know we made the right choice of keeping our doors open.
We provided participants with additional stipend funds to cover ride-sharing expenses and gas so that they could avoid public transportation during the height of the pandemic. We switched to purchasing individually wrapped food from our vendors to promote food safety and sanitation for participants at mealtimes. We also enacted shorter programming schedules to limit the duration of personal interactions while ensuring that the most essential services were being offered to participants each weekday.
As we moved into 2021 and vaccines rolled out nationally, our participant-facing team members were vaccinated early as essential service providers. The rest of our team members were vaccinated in the spring. We continue to conduct daily health screenings, provide participants with transportation to/from vaccination appointments, and limit the number of non-essential personnel in our St. Louis Center.
Concordance has and will continue to comply with all city and state COVID guidelines while actively monitoring safety best practices from local, regional, and national health agencies. As the pandemic continues to be an ever-present challenge in our lives, as an organization we have remained nimble in our approach to providing services to participants while remaining steadfast in our commitment to safety.
We are committed to thinking long term about our mission despite the short-term uncertainty. While we don’t know how long the pandemic will continue for, we are confident that Concordance can continue to walk alongside our participants in their healing journey and continue our plans for scaling services in the St. Louis region and nationwide as we expand.