Vodec CEO Steve Hodapp

by Steve Hodapp

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, our goals included keeping consumers and employees healthy. To do this, we initiated some practices where we could limit exposure. We knew we could not eliminate exposure, but we could impact what was within our capacity to control.

So, we did our best through following CDC guidelines about social distancing, face masks, disinfecting and so on – all the same stuff you hear in the media and are also asked to do.

In April, we also asked employees and consumers to take advantage of the new testiowa.com and testnebraska.com websites to report symptoms or lack thereof. Some of you took precautionary actions of your own by limiting attendance at our development centers or at our group homes.

In Iowa, Gov. Kim Reynolds restricted attendance in Iowa adult day programs beginning with her March 15 proclamation.

But on June 10, she issued a new proclamation allowing Iowa day programs to re-open June 12, albeit with IDPH guidelines in mind. We also asked that employees follow the travel restrictions issued in Gov. Reynolds’ proclamations and Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts’ directed health measures.

In March, we initiated practices for our group homes. We asked for cooperation from our residents and their families to not visit at a setting, and for residents to not engage in community outings or have home visits. We encouraged these same practices to be adopted in our contracted Iowa host homes and Nebraska shared living homes.

When we set our goals and practices, we knew they could not endure indefinitely. At some point they would have to be adjusted, given changing conditions and eventual easing of mandated restrictions. In the easing of our practices, we would have to continue considering safety of consumers and employees. Within these considerations was also the assessment of our capacity to serve group home residents if a resident tested positive.

The practices in our group homes were probably the most onerous to everyone involved. They took into consideration the ages and underlying health conditions as advised by the CDC and state and local health departments. By their nature, the practices in our group homes seemed the most restrictive and were the hardest to be accepted.

From the beginning, the measures we took to keep consumers and employees safe would have a limited life. We discussed how we could absorb the return of day program consumers returning of their own volition or in response to the lifting of the restriction in Iowa.

We had conversations about easing our practices in a staged and sensible manner. At the end of May, we were able to ease back on the original practices at some of our group homes. Easing back means there are new but less restrictive practices in place as we try to minimize exposure for our residents and employees.

With all that said, the priority of all of us at Vodec is the safety and well-being of consumers entrusted to our care. We take that responsibility very seriously. I know that through enforcing practices past, present and future, I have and will step on some toes. I understand this goes with making decisions because with every decision, someone walks away happy while someone walks away disappointed. When you hear anyone say they’re trying to please everyone, realize just how impossible that is to accomplish.

As we move forward through the pandemic, we will continue to do our best to keep consumers and employees safe. Our practices will ebb and flow, their intensity will ease or tighten as conditions and guidance dictates.

If you are a family member, you will have an impact on what we do with practices. I’m asking for compliance with our practices as they are at any point. Working together as a team will serve your family members best.

One thing which seems really difficult to comprehend today is this will not last forever. Maybe that’s just my optimism. I have to believe there will be a vaccine, herd immunity, medical treatments or something that reduces or eliminates the virus and/or provides more effective treatment of persons who contract it.

Optimism. Hope. Call it what you will. But without that outlook, things can look pretty bleak, pandemic or not. I prefer to have a more hopeful outlook.