Many of you have questions about how to proceed during this uncertain time as we work diligently to prevent coronavirus (COVID-19) from spreading. The Major Unusual Incident (MUI) and Registry Unit knows that the important work of MUI contacts and investigative agents (IAs) has been significantly impacted and that this is likely to continue.
There have been numerous changes throughout the service delivery system in response to the COVID-19 threat, including program closures, education and communication plans, telew orking, and resource development for people who have had a loss in supports.
The field is working proactively to help protect people with developmental disabilities, families, county boards of developmental disabilities, and direct support professionals. You have our commitment that we will work collaboratively with you and all our stakeholders to focus on the immediate health and welfare of the people we support. We will be flexible with regard to rule requirements that are being impacted by this pandemic. We look forward to a partnership that allows us to protect vulnerable people who need us, while making life safe for all during this unprecedented time.
We offer the following guidance to help ease some concerns that have been shared with us to this point. Please remember to stay in close communication with your regional manager regarding specific questions or concerns surrounding COVID-19 and our MUI reporting and investigation process.
- Reporting timelines will remain in place, as it is important to ensure immediate actions and notifications occur timely. If a county board, council of governments (COG), or developmental center encounters an issue entering information into the Incident Tracking System (ITS) by the filing timeline, and all appropriate immediate actions and notifications have been verified, a filing extension will be considered. Requests should be made to the regional manager and by placing a notation in the MUI.
- Many of you are considering or have moved to teleworking. Please ensure that people, families, providers, other stakeholders, and the DODD MUI unit are aware of who to report MUIs to 24 hours a day, and the process, if this has changed. It is critical during these times that any changes in reporting procedures or contacts be communicated well.
- We understand that face-to-face interviews within three days or in general will not be feasible or safe during this time. We know many people, families, homes, and facilities are not allowing visitors at this time. We encourage IAs to use a phone, Skype, or other means of technology to conduct interviews as much as possible. Written statements, witness statements, and other documentation can be obtained via email or fax.
- As law enforcement and other entities are challenged too, we may see an increased delay in responding to information for criminal cases. Please continue to document your attempts and provide updates on these cases and request extensions as needed.
- We will be more flexible with extensions and other rule-related time frames during this time period.
- IAs should document in the final report if any timelines were unable to be met and why.
- All compliance reviews currently scheduled for March 14 through May 31 are postponed.
- Technical assistance from the MUI unit is always available through calls, emails, online meetings, and training. Do not hesitate to reach out to your regional manager or another team member.
- We do not expect face-to-face stakeholder meetings this year. Please send your MUI information to the stakeholders group by April 30. Each county board, COG, and developmental center can decide how they will collect feedback from this group whether this is in writing, on the phone, or via other methods.
- The department will suspend requests for unusual incident (UI) logs (from county board-operated programs and developmental centers) during this time. We ask counties to do the same for the providers in your county.
Also, DODD has set up a dedicated web page for department communications and links to helpful resources that will advise people with disabilities, their families, service providers, direct support professionals, county boards of developmental disabilities, and the community at large.
For specific questions about COVID-19 and additional information and resources, DODD urges you to use the Ohio Department of Health’s call center. Call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5634), or visit coronavirus.ohio.gov .
Thank you for the work that you do every day. Challenging times often bring out the best in all of us. We look forward to working with you to get the job done here in Ohio.