Updated April 8, 2020

We have been coping with the Coronavirus on a daily basis at St Louis Center. We have eliminated outside visitors, except for medical personnel. We have canceled all outside therapists, and are doing Zoom meetings with foster care workers, CMH workers, the trauma therapist, and the psychiatrists.

Thirteen residents went home at the beginning of the crisis, and most of them will remain home until the stay at home executive order is lifted. One resident has returned and underwent a three-day quarantine in Taylor hall before he returned to St. Joes.

We have been able to obtain enough hand sanitizer from both Ugly Dog distributer, and our own distributor to ensure that there is ample hand sanitizer on campus. We are requiring all staff to wash their hands before reporting to their units, and again when they get there. Therefore, we are taking temperatures and asking about symptoms every day before they start shifts. We are also doing a wellness screen and temperature check for all the residents.

We have had a number of staff call in sick. We are following the CDC guidelines for health care workers for returning to work.

Thus far, we have had no illness among the residents, and no positive COVID tests among the staff. However, since many health care providers are not seeing patients unless they are in an emergency situation, we are treating all virus-like symptoms as if they are COVID related.

We have established Taylor Hall as a 3-bed isolation unit, in the event that we need to quarantine someone. If a resident that has quarantining at home with family needs to come back, we will utilize Taylor for a 3-day quarantine. We are asking that they not return, however, we also recognize that this is their home, and we know some families just cannot handle their loved one for another month.

As you can imagine, many of the residents, especially the children, are struggling with boredom, and an inability to understand why their normal schedule has been disrupted. We are establishing school schedules for them, working with the Washtenaw County ISD to provide some internet learning.

On the bright side, we have received hundreds of cards and letters from the community encouraging our residents. After proper disinfection, they are distributed among the residents, and those with return addresses are getting cards made to send back to them. In addition, we requested weighted blankets, which have been shown to reduce anxiety and help with sleeping among those residents struggling with those issues. So far, we have been sent 13 blankets. This has been an outstanding show of support from our community.

We are learning a lot from this experience in how the community can come together, even while we stay 6 feet apart.


Deana Fisher, COO
St. Louis Center

Dear Parents and guardians of loved ones at St. Louis Center:

We are taking the mitigation of the virus at St. Louis Center very seriously.  Information from the state and county has been changing on what seems like a minute to minute basis, but we can now take a breath and let you know what we have been doing.

Governor Whitmer has released an executive order barring non-essential visitors from coming to the agency: Governor Gretchen Whitmer clarified an earlier prohibition she implemented on visiting persons at hospitals, other health care facilities and residential care facilities like residential treatment, juvenile justice, and nursing homes in an additional executive order, stipulating what kinds of visitors are allowed.

Under Executive Order 2020-7 (attached), effective immediately, all health care facilities, residential care facilities, congregate care facilities and juvenile justice facilities must prohibit any visitors that are not necessary for the provision of medical care, the support of activities of daily living or the exercise of power of attorney or court-appointed guardianship for an individual under the facility’s care.

Under the revised restriction, parents, foster parents or guardians of individuals under 21 at the facilities WILL BE ALLOWED to enter.

The new order also made clear visiting individuals who are in serious or critical condition or hospice care will be allowed as will those who are visiting under “exigent circumstances or for the purpose of performing official government functions.”

Also, beginning as soon as possible but no later than 9 a.m. on Monday, facilities must assess for COVID-19 symptoms and risk factors among all individuals seeking entry into the facilities and deny entry to individuals with symptoms or risk factors.

The order’s restrictions will remain in place until 5 p.m. April 5, 2020. During that time, the order encourages the affected facilities to use electronic communication platforms to facilitate visitations with individuals under their care.

“We are taking every measure we can to mitigate the spread of coronavirus and protect Michigan families,” Governor Whitmer said in a statement. “This is a hard time for families, and we will continue to put their health and safety first when making these decisions. I also want to remind everyone to continue doing everything they can at an individual level to protect themselves and their families, like washing their hands and practicing social distancing. We will get through this together.”

  • Therefore, all visitors will be stopped and assessed for symptoms. A sign has been placed on the door advising visitors that they are not to come in unless they meet the above criteria. We have stopped all donations.
  • All school and work programs have been cancelled. Residents will remain on campus until at least April 6th, with the exception of necessary medical care. All outside activities are cancelled, and various therapists who come to the agency have been stopped.
  • We have asked as many parents and guardians as possible to take residents home. This is primarily because we anticipate a staff shortage as the virus spreads, and we have more staffing needs as the residents are home all the time now.
  • We have developed a schedule and several back up plans to make sure we have adequate staff coverage if we experience staffing shortages.
  • Housekeeping has always disinfected carefully, but is now stepping up the number of times a day we disinfect door knobs, and other areas that are highly trafficked.
  • There is hand sanitizer in all the homes, and direct care workers are washing hands of themselves and the residents whenever they leave or return to campus. Direct care workers are required to wash their hands as soon as they clock in.
  • Any staff that begins to feel unwell while at work has been directed to immediately put on a mask, call a supervisor, and will be relieved to go home.
  • Staff that are aware of an exposure, whether sick or not, are to stay home.
  • Day Program is cancelled, and the individuals will stay in their homes.

If you have any questions or think of something we may have missed, please email or call me. I appreciate your patience as we all navigate through this difficult time.


Deana Fisher, COO St. Louis Center.