Community Brain Injury Services is incredibly honored and humbled to be recognized by the disAbility Law Center of Virginia as a Multi-Regional 2021 disABILITY Impact Awards Recipient for making an impact in the lives of people with disabilities in our service areas in Virginia during the COVID-19 pandemic. On June 17th, 2021, the disAbility Law Center of Virginia presented this award to Community Brain Injury Services and our extraordinarily dedicated staff “for excellence in providing services, supports, and resources for people with disabilities in multiple regions in Virginia through innovation, adaptation, and perseverance during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Our Executive Director, Jason Young accepted the award on behalf of the incredibly committed staff at Community Brain Injury Services noting that “For our staff team, this past year was hard, stressful, requiring a constant dedication to our safety protocols all the while knowing they did not have the luxury to stay home and work virtually, because of the work we do. Our staff rose to this challenge and went above and beyond the call of duty to make sure our community was protected and served and this award is such a validation of their work.”
Providing Critical, Safety Net Services During a Global Pandemic
As Governor Northam issued a stay at home order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, CBIS was forced to close the doors on our physical programs for the first time in our 20 year history. This led us to ask ourselves the most important question in the history of our services:
What does it mean to be a safety-net provider to a medically fragile population during a global pandemic?
Doing nothing was not an option. CBIS quickly developed a robust virtual services model, working remotely to meet the needs of our members and clients ensuring their health and safety, access to basic needs, and a way to stay connected to their peers and community.
CBIS Clubhouses developed twice daily creative and innovative virtual programming meaning nearly every week day, our members could log into a virtual Clubhouse session. Over the last year, CBIS has offered 643 virtual opportunities to the people we serve with a total attendance of over 3800.
CBIS developed a safety assessment template to utilize in our contacts early on in the pandemic to screen for health and safety risk factors. Through the use of these assessments, staff was able to identify who needed greater assistance and support and were able to assist members and clients with getting groceries, medications, and supplies and setting up delivery services so that they wouldn’t have to leave their homes and could limit their exposure risk. This tool became the standard tool for all brain injury providers in Virginia to ensure the health and safety of survivors of brain injury in Virginia through the pandemic. Over the past year, CBIS staff completed over 2800 weekly safety assessments. In addition to the safety assessments, CBIS staff had close to 11,000 separate contacts with clients and members.
Case Managers facilitated bi-weekly Virtual Women’s Luncheons, and transitioned the Caregivers support group online. We have held advocacy appointments with legislators virtually, and facilitated a state-wide Virtual Brain Injury Awareness Day event. This event was attended by 150 survivors of brain injury, caregivers, professionals, advocates, and state legislators.
On July 15th, 2020, after careful planning, CBIS became one of the first brain injury providers in Virginia to reopen in-person programming. As we reopened in-person services in a hybrid model, we continued to offer a structured calendar of daily virtual programming and remote case management meetings, to continue to serve members and clients where they felt safest and in greatest control of their health and services. Where many other Virginia human service providers chose to remain fully virtual, we recognized that there were individuals we simply couldn’t reach on a virtual platform. In reopening services in-person with strict protocols in place, we were able to provide 1281 days of intensive service from mid-July through March in a part time, hybrid model, without a single case of COVID-19 spread at the Clubhouse.
We are most proud of, and have undoubtedly made the biggest impact on our community during the pandemic in being able to provide COVID-19 vaccination clinics in collaboration with Medicap pharmacy to our members, clients, and caregivers. The Denbigh House and The Mill House coordinated and staffed two events at each Clubhouse. Holding events at our Clubhouse not only made the vaccine more accessible, we were able to offer frequent reminders, schedule paratransit, assist in coordinating ride share services, and vaccinate eligible caregivers and household members. A total of 480 vaccines were distributed.