The New Normal at The GateHouse


Although Lancaster County is not currently part of Pennsylvania’s phased reopening plan, today’s news from Governor Tom Wolf and Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine brings with it some cause for optimism.

The state is moving in a positive direction and we hope that sometime within the next four weeks, Lancaster County and surrounding areas will begin to open back up on a limited basis. Like you, we here at The GateHouse are ready to emerge from the Commonwealth’s shelter-in-place mandate and get back to some semblance of normalcy!

What that “new normal” looks like, however, remains to be seen. One thing’s for certain, though–the COVID-19 quarantine has permanently changed how some things will operate at The GateHouse.

One question that is on many minds right now is whether we’ve had any outbreaks or positive tests for coronavirus at any of our facilities. We have not. While we’re very happy to make this announcement, we are still proceeding with tremendous caution.

We continue to follow the guidelines issued by The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) for keeping our headquarters, our Behavioral Health Facility, and our Residential Treatment centers and Transitional Recovery Housing locations clean and safe. We will continue to follow the Governor’s and the CDC’s guidelines for reopening, as well.

In March, we implemented several changes to our operations at all of our facilities. These included:

  • TEMPERATURE CHECKS: All clients and staff have been required to submit to temperature checks at every location twice a day to ensure any elevations are addressed as quickly as possible.
  • NO-TOUCH POLICIES: We implemented a no-touch policy at all of our locations, as well as our Behavioral Health Programs. Typically, when we close meetings, there are usually hugs, handshakes, and hand-holding during the closing prayer. We asked our clients and attendees to refrain from these behaviors indefinitely.
  • REMOTE 12-STEP MEETINGS: Residents at our Residential Treatment and Transitional Recovery Housing locations were no longer permitted to leave to attend 12-step meetings. Instead, we encouraged them to participate in virtual 12-step meetings.
  • TELE-HEALTH: We implemented Outpatient Tele-Health services from our Behavioral Health Facility on Cherry Street in Lancaster using the Zoom video conferencing program.

We believe that our swift actions in implementing these changes may have saved our residents from contracting the virus and potentially infecting other clients at our facilities.

In the middle of everything and with the help of our dedicated and driven staff, we were able to not only open a brand new recovery facility for men at our Mountville location, but we also were successful in implementing a new Electronic Medical Records program.

Overall, the morale of both our residents and staff has been remarkably positive. At the beginning of the quarantine, things were difficult as everyone adjusted to the new restrictions. Over the past month, however, we’ve discovered that our residents and staff adapted quite well. This was true at all of our facilities from Residential Treatment to the Recovery Houses.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine, we have learned a lot about what recovery looks like in this new environment. Even after the stay-at-home orders are fully lifted, we anticipate leaving some of these changes in place and we will likely make further adjustments to our day-to-day operations based on what we’ve experienced and what we’ve learned about our recovery community. These may not be dramatic changes, but we believe they’ll be impactful.

For example, prior to the quarantine, we didn’t allow residents to work third shift. Since the shelter-in-place mandate went into effect, however, this was something we had to accommodate to ensure our residents could continue to work and pay their bills.

We also will continue staggering shifts for our staff to ensure social distancing remains in place. The good news, however, is that we anticipate reopening our Family Support program sometime in the near future. We’re currently exploring how this can be done in a responsible way.

While we have no timelines in place for any of our reopening measures, our clinical, administrative, and on-site teams plan to meet regularly to analyze the guidelines form the CDC and the Wolf Administration as we look toward the phased reopening of the state starting this month.

Thanks to everyone for your amazing support!

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