When Will Thom Clinicians Begin Providing In-person Visits?

When will Thom clinicians begin providing in-person visits?

We are hearing this question with increasing frequency. First, please know, we miss seeing children and families in person. Home and community based visiting is what brought us to this work in the first place. We miss you and we look forward to seeing you in-person.

While many businesses in Massachusetts are re-opening, the unique nature of Early Intervention home visiting necessitates additional caution. As an agent of public health, we have an obligation to prioritize and promote the health and safety of families as well as our staff.  We need to be thoughtful and careful in our decisions as to how and when we resume in-person visits. The nature of our work makes a return to in-person visits particularly complicated. Unlike a store or clinic, our workplace is not one single location; it is spread out over thousands of homes in 161 cities and towns across Massachusetts. Compared to other home visiting services that provide intensive services to small numbers of children, our caseloads are large. All of these factors put a heavy responsibility on us as we plan for a future and gradual return to some in-person visits. 

With all of these complex issues, please know that the health and safety of our staff, the families with whom we work, and the communities where we live and work continue to be a top priority for Thom Child and Family Services.  Here is what we have been doing and what we will be doing in the coming weeks:

  • Thom leadership staff members along with other stakeholders are participating in the Department of Public Health’s statewide re-engagement task force. 
  • Our Workplace Safety and Wellbeing Committee is working through plans for contact tracing, as well as universal precaution and COVID-19 risk reduction training. 
  • We will have standardized screening questions across the agency and an outline of shared responsibilities for families and providers. 
  • We have used grant funding to purchase PPE, including hand-made clear front cloth masks so children can see our smiles. We continue to seek additional grants and donations for supplies for our staff. 
  • Simultaneously, we continue to work with our consultants to ensure we are taking the necessary precautions as we prepare for limited in-person visits in the future. 

When we do begin to provide very limited in-person visits, we will have to carefully prioritize and plan these visits. Clinicians will be restricted in the number of families they will be able to see in person. This will necessitate coordination at the program level with supervisors and program directors to ensure that there is compelling clinical need for an in-person visit during this time. Ensuring access to services and actively addressing barriers to access is critical as we make these plans. 

We appreciate your patience and understanding. Please know these are complex and difficult decisions. Your service providers look forward to joining you in-person when they can. In the meantime, they appreciate your continued partnership via telepractice.

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