We are committed to bringing our patients a high level of care, and we are taking additional precautions to keep both staff and patients safe. Our CEO, Steve Woolworth shares operational changes and decisions we have made at our clinics and with our homeless outreach during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dear Friends and Supporters,
You don’t need me to tell you these are challenging times. At Evergreen Treatment Services we know crises like COVID-19 hit the people we serve the hardest—people who are unhoused, communities of color, seniors, people who are incarcerated, struggling veterans, and those with complex medical conditions. For the last three weeks, we have been in full mobilization mode to ensure we are doing everything within our power to continue delivering on our mission while also keeping everyone safe.
As a state-designated “essential service,” we continue to operate all our clinics 6-days a week. Moreover, with the determination by Public Health Seattle-King County that restrictions on public gatherings do not apply to homeless service providers, we continue to serve individuals at our REACH office and through our street outreach and housing case management teams. In short, while much of the region remains isolated in their homes adhering to social distancing practices, we at ETS remain on the front lines serving thousands of our region’s most vulnerable members every day.
Over the last few weeks, we have accomplished quite a bit and we have had to make some hard decisions as well. For example:
♦ We rolled out a three-phased infection control readiness and response plan that cut out our daily clinic visits in half without compromising any medical services. By providing extended take-home doses of medication, offering telehealth and telephone check-ins, and utilizing “open-air” spaces for symptomatic patients, we have dramatically reduced the number of people in our clinics at any given time. At first federal regulatory agencies were slow to approve our plan but after the advocacy of Washington State Health Care Authority, the ETS plan was adopted as the federally approved guidelines for all Opioid Treatment Programs in the state. Since then, the core elements of the ETS plan have been used to inform federal guidelines for the entire nation!
♦ REACH’s role has been critical in helping people living outside as they maintain social distancing practices and make hygiene a priority. We are currently working with our government partners at the state and local levels to offer rapid testing to our clients and routing people to isolation and quarantine COVID recovery locations as needed. We have also signed on to letters to the City of Seattle and the State of Washington requesting a moratorium on evictions during the outbreak and demanding that officials adopt supportive practices and stop harmful activities like forcibly removing people from encampments and their communities.
♦ Finally, we’ve come to the difficult decision to postpone our 3rd Annual Luncheon, which was scheduled for May 8th. We plan to reschedule the event in the fall, carrying over all sponsorships, table purchases, and tickets. Please contact Tavia Rhodes at trhodes [at] evergreentreatment [dot] org if you have questions or concerns. Our keynote speaker, New York Times best-selling author Maia Szalavitz, is supportive of our decision and plans to join us. Thank you to those of you who have already mobilized around the event. We look forward to celebrating with you once we’re on the other side of this global crisis.
The luncheon is our single biggest fundraising event of the year, and while it is still too soon to know exactly what the financial implications of COVID-19 will be for ETS, we anticipate challenging times in the months ahead. We know many of you are facing financial hardships right now, but if you have the means and would like to donate in place of the event, it would make a huge difference to us right now. Please give online here. We also recognize many people are looking for ways to help during this time and so if you are so inclined, please forward this message to your networks. On behalf of the entire ETS team, I thank you for your support.
I cannot tell you how inspired I continue to be by our staff’s collective commitment to this work. I am so grateful to have joined an organization that even under the most challenging conditions continues to deliver on our mission through a unique blend of compassion, resilience, collaboration, and ingenuity. Every day we continue to admit new patients into treatment, onboard new staff into critical positions and search for housing for clients in need of it.
We are indeed all in this together. And together we will get through the tough days and weeks ahead.