Continuing Updates COVID-19

April 4, 2020

As of April 4, 2020 Venture has 3 individuals out of 300 that are hospitalized.  All safety protocols are in place.

April 3, 2020

On April 3, 2020 a fake Facebook profile posted false COVID-19 information throughout our page with the intent to harm the reputation of the agency. Please be assured that Venture has protocols in place to protect the health and safety of all people we support as well as our staff of more than 800.  These protocols are evaluated and updated daily to keep up with the ever-evolving situation.  In our effort of transparency, we will keep updated statistics posted on our website for reference. Our staff continues to provide outstanding supports to all in our care and for that, we thank them greatly!

March 31, 2020

Per guidance from the state, the Venture office will continue to have very limited access through May 4th. This includes all training being cancelled through 5/4/2020. (please see 3/23 post)

March 26, 2020

Dear Parents, Guardians and Families,

I am writing to update you on Venture Community Services’ new visitation policy. This policy follows the guidance put forth by Jane Ryder, Commissioner of the Department of Developmental Service. I have included a copy of the memo that was issued by Commissioner Ryder for your convenience.

Until the threat of COVID 19 is resolved, Venture will allow no visitors to any of its program locations. In addition, we are prohibiting visitation with friends and family. The only exception to this visitation policy will be in end of life circumstances, with express advanced permission from Venture management.

If you wish to pick your loved one up, unfortunately we will not be able to accept them back into our program until these pandemic restrictions have been lifted. If you choose to do so, please contact the program manager so that we can make appropriate arrangements for a long term family visit.
We are enforcing these restrictions until further notice to limit exposure to the virus. While restrictive, it is being done in an attempt to preserve the health of the people that Venture supports and our very dedicated staff who provide those services. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

Best regards, 

Pam Sampson, Chief Program Officer

March 23, 2020

As many of you may have heard by now, Governor Charlie Baker issued an emergency order requiring all businesses and organizations that do not provide “COVID-19 Essential Services” to close their physical workplaces and facilities to workers, customers and the public as of Tuesday, March 24th at noon until Tuesday, April 7th at noon. As a result of this order and similar to the approach of following the state’s lead in regards to inclement weather delays and closing, we will be limiting access to the main office.

Staff who need to meet with someone in the main office are free to schedule an appointment, as many of the people that work in the administrative office will be doing so remotely. Even though we may not be physically in the office, we are available via, phone, email and teleconferencing in an effort to ensure that your questions and concerns get addressed.  The agency will continue to stockpile supplies during this period and be responsible for delivering items to programs as needed.

March 19, 2020

Shout out to all of #teamventure for stepping up to the plate and continuing to pitch in where needed. We sincerely appreciate your unwavering commitment!    Behind the scenes here, we continue to purchase, inventory and deliver food and supplies to all of our residences to ensure everyone has what they need.

A portion of our staging area to ensure everyone has what they need.

March 17, 2020

Message From Our CEO

Good afternoon Venture.  I wanted to take a few moments to reach out to you today with an update on the ways in which the agency is monitoring and responding to the COVID 19 situation.  It is a topic that dominates every headline and it is important that we all remain well informed.  To date, there are no cases of any employees or individuals associated with the agency having been diagnosed with the virus.  This is not surprising given the relatively low incidence of infection across Massachusetts, which is a state with more than 7 million residents.  At this point, fewer than 200 people have been diagnosed or presumed to be infected.  Things certainly change daily but right now, that is the impact on the state.

Venture has implemented a number of steps to enhance safety for all of our employees while they do the amazing work they have always done. We opted to close our day programs out of a sense of extreme caution and to limit the number of people with whom those we support have contact.  We also engaged a professional cleaning company to sanitize the offices regularly and we are prepared to send companies to homes as needed should it be required.  In addition, Venture is working daily to stockpile a variety of supplies that can be deployed to homes that need them.  This can be done in a way that does not require staff from programs to be pulled away from the invaluable work they are continuing to do.  The agency is also receiving ongoing communications regarding the virus from multiple sources several times a day so that we can remain responsive in real time.  Our information comes from our trade association, ANCOR, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and an international law firm.  The updates we get guide all of our decisions and come from the most informed sources in the country.  We also monitor what is happening in other agencies in Massachusetts and have already offered some best practices to agencies who have asked for help.

While this seems like a scary time for everyone, I am confident we can all get through it together.  In the past six and a half years, I have seen our workforce do truly incredible things and we have unwavering faith in the skill and commitment of this extraordinary group of professionals.  We will continue to supply each of you with the information and tools to manage this unique situation and we will advocate seven days a week for the state and federal government to recognize all that you do.  I would be remiss if I did not mention this agency’s great thanks to so many people who have done so much already.  Group home staff and managers who show up every day to help others and Day Hab staff who willingly changed jobs on the fly and went to homes to continue supporting our individuals are truly what has always been best at our agency.  Facilities staff and drivers who have already volunteered to do whatever it takes to support the homes and the staff who are working so hard are truly inspiring.  Our I.T. department and Program Directors are working tirelessly to make sure our infrastructure supports our growing need and the people in H.R and Accounting are constantly adapting to speed up all of the functions that support programs.  In short, everyone who reads this has a reason to be proud of the work you are doing under trying circumstances and each person is doing exceptional things that never go unnoticed.

We will continue to update you as things happen and, most importantly, we will continue to recognize and appreciate all that you do.


March 16, 2020

Day Program Closure

Effective Monday, March 16th, all Venture Community Day Programs will be closed until further notice. All Day Program employees should report to their respective programs on March 16 at usual time to discuss residential coverage and deployment. Admin and transportation staff to report as usual. Thank you for your commitment while we continue to provide needed services to the people we support. We are taking these measures out of an abundance of caution and based on guidance issued by the state related to large gatherings. We will continue to update as we have more information.

March 12, 2020

For Parents, Guardians, Providers

Dear Parents, Guardians and Providers,

I am writing to let you know the steps that Venture Community Services is taking to respond to the threat of COVID- 19 illness. In addition to typical disease prevention techniques and protocols, Venture is implementing the following steps to prevent the spread of the virus to the people that we support and the staff who we employ:

  • Purchasing additional cleaning and sanitation supplies for each program that Venture operates
  • Purchasing additional personal protective equipment such as gloves and masks for each program that Venture operates
  • Implementing additional COVID-19 specific cleaning protocols. These protocols were developed by the Director of Nursing with specific adherence to medical cleanliness guidelines and will be implemented on each shift
  • Implementation of professional deep cleaning of each day habilitation program site twice weekly. This cleaning will supplement the daily cleaning that already occurs in these programs
  • Implementation of professional deep cleaning of our residential programs that support medically fragile individuals weekly to supplement daily cleaning that already occurs in these programs
  • Implementation of sanitation and wipe down of each agency van before and after each use. Sanitizing supplies and hand sanitizer will be stocked in each vehicle in case it is needed during use
  • Staff training in the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and flu and appropriate response to these symptoms in our day and residential programs. Literature about this topic has been posted in each of our programs
  • Staff training in proper hand washing techniques. Literature about this topic has been posted in each of our programs
  • Limiting outings in the community where large groups may gather
  • Upon signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and/or flu, individuals’ PCP office will be contacted for further instruction about treatment
  • A COVID-19 response team will convene upon positive or presumed positive diagnosis of COVID-19 to respond to the needs of the specific program and individual receiving supports. This team will consist of senior staff from agency operations, nursing and clinical services
  • The Director of Nursing is developing a Quarantine Protocol, should the need arise, to effectively quarantine individuals for the recommended 14 day period

We are confident that these steps will aid in preventing the occurrence of COVID-19 in our programs, for the people we support and our very dedicated work force. Venture is also collaborating with other agencies and the Commonwealth.   In order to keep you updated on the latest developments, we will be posting updates on our website and on our Facebook page.

Best regards,

Mike Hyland, President & CEO

New VP of HR

We are pleased to announce that Shaunna Monts is our new Vice President of Human Resources & Professional Development.  In this role, Shaunna will oversee all of the agency’s HR initiatives compliance, while ensuring HR is aligned with Venture’s vision.

 Shaunna brings over 15 years of professional experience to Venture and has a strong history of human resource management that includes strategic initiatives, employee retention programs, labor relations, policy management and employee development.

She most recently served as The Director of Human Resources for Wellmore Behavioral Health where she served an employee base of 350 people who provided clinical and home-based treatment to those in need.  Shaunna has also held positions in the HR field at Community Health Resources, The Metropolitan District and American Medical Response.  She has served on the Diversity Committee of the Human Resources Association of Central Connecticut, the African- American Affairs Commission and on the board of Jewish Family Services.

 “We are very pleased to have Shaunna join our Senior Management Team,” said Venture President & CEO Mike Hyland.  “Shauna brings a wealth of experience and a commitment to Venture’s workforce and mission.”

Shaunna received a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Development & Family Resources from University of Connecticut in Storrs and a Master of Science in Healthcare Administration from the University of New Haven as well as a Master of Business Administration from the University of Hartford in West Hartford, CT.

Investing in our Employees

Venture is beginning its second year of the Mentor Program, a series designed to strengthen and empower our workforce through a group mentoring approach that offers the opportunity to learn from expert guest speakers, connect with agency leadership, and engage in meaningful discussion with peers.  Our employees are what make it possible to fulfill our mission, and we are committed to providing opportunities to staff members of all levels.

Participants will be able to fine-tune skills such as leadership, communication, conflict resolution, collaboration, networking, career development, and more.  The program seeks to provide insight about thriving within the human services sector and offers an opportunity for professional growth.  Our main goal is to invest in our employees, which will ultimately lead to the improvement of services for the individuals we support and contribute to the professionalization of the human services industry as a whole.  Additionally, each participant will be matched with a member of the agency’s senior leadership team that will offer support during the program.

We are proud to be hosting some very knowledgeable professionals from our community who will be speaking to the group about various topics.  This fall, we begin the program with a presentation by Christine Singer, who has years of experience in consulting and conducting workshops for companies, non-profit organizations, educational institutions, and human services providers.  She will offer insight to the group about communication and conflict management.  We are also excited to welcome Chris Tieri from Sturbridge’s own Idea Agency to talk about strategies for career advancement and personal brand development.

To date, three of last year’s Mentor Program participants have gone on to complete advanced degrees, four have been promoted at Venture, and two have experienced career advancement outside of the agency.  We are very proud of their success, and we look forward to helping this year’s participants develop their skills, gain confidence, and experience career growth as well.

Is this the Final Assault on Medicaid?

By Mike Hyland, President and CEO

With the year half over already, the U.S. Senate is working furiously to pass a bill that overhauls the Affordable Care Act before Congress recesses for the July 4th holiday.  A bill written in complete secrecy by just 13 members of the 100-member Senate is finally making its way to all of the people who will ultimately vote on it next week and, like the bill passed by the House of Representatives last month, the details are alarming.

Of paramount concern is the Senate’s plan to mirror the bill passed by the House that significantly cut Medicaid over a ten-year period, while also converting it to a block grant.  It is not just an assault on Medicaid, but an unequivocal betrayal of people with developmental disabilities and the hard-working men and women who support them in the community.  With Governor Baker already asserting that this legislation will cost Massachusetts billions if enacted, the Commonwealth will find itself in a position where draconian cuts to basic supports will be inevitable.  The human service industry already struggles to hire people, and will now be gutted even further.  The funds available to increase wages will disappear.  There have been months of advocacy that have taken place to educate the White House and Congress about what these cuts will do to people with disabilities, as well as the professionals dedicated to helping them.  Both the proposed Senate and House bills represent that the people who wrote them and voted for them just don’t care.  They know that services for people with disabilities will be cut and that pay for direct care professionals will freeze. Their actions prove they truly don’t give a damn.  How did we allow our society to get here?  If there is one thing that elected officials should be able to agree upon, it is the duty to protect people with disabilities and the too-long-taken-for-granted workforce that helps them.  Instead, President Trump and leadership in the House and Senate have chosen to abandon them and dedicate dollars that currently support these groups to the most affluent in our country via a tax cut.  Perhaps worst of all, these actions come following a promise from candidates that, if elected, they would protect Medicaid and the disabled.  Obviously, it was a lie from the start.

There is still a process that these bills must go through before becoming law.  Essentially, the House and the Senate must find a way to reconcile the two bills into one and send it to the White House to be signed.  It is my hope that people will flood lawmakers like never before with phone calls and emails that decry this horrific dismissal of people in need.  We should inundate our lawmakers with the notion that people with disabilities have the right to live safely in local communities.  We must also remember the professionals who are dedicated to supporting them.  So many people have worked way too hard, for far too long, under grueling circumstances to be so blithely abandoned in favor of millionaires and stubborn ideology.  Gandhi once said, “The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members”.  If one believes this, it would seem that we are dangerously close to failing the test.

Announcing ADDP Awards for Venture Employees

Venture Community Services is proud to announce that two dedicated employees received awards at this year’s ADDP Conference and Expo on May 4 at the DCU Center in Worcester. Annmarie Addesa has won the Direct Support Professional Award for the Central region and Lindsey Dezotell was presented with the Continuing Education Scholarship Award.

Annmarie offers dignity and respect to the individuals she supports in her professional role at Venture Community Services. She follows procedures and policies while still paying close attention to the safety, health and happiness of the individuals she supports.  She works with the community to create new opportunities and groups for individuals both in her house and throughout the agency.  Her Splash Day at the Attleboro Art Museum allowed individuals from several Venture homes to gather and create expressive art. She is a standout during these events, making sure everyone is involved and enjoying their time with others.  Annmarie is always supportive of individuals served while ensuring that they are also able to be as independent as possible. “Annmarie is an example of everything this field needs in the means of direct care staff,” said Rahjene Berrio, House Manager at Venture Community Services. “She is caring, creative and supportive of all individuals she supports and proves time and time again her commitment to providing them with the opportunity to live the most fulfilling life possible.”

Lindsey has advanced from Residential Counselor to her current position as Staff Trainer, where she guides new staff and continues to encourage them in their new roles. Lindsey also is a full-time student at Bay Path University, where she pursuing a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership. She is passionate about investing in families and working with people with disabilities. “In her entry role, as a 19-year-old, Lindsey quickly demonstrated a hunger to gain more knowledge about bettering the lives of the people around her,” said Walter J. Davenport, Training Coordinator at Venture Community Services. “Because of her willingness to share her own learning disability, Lindsey was able to support me in creating a work environment that allowed team members to become more sensitive to fellow co-workers with disabilities, as well as the disabilities of the people we were supporting”.

The Framingham-based Association of Developmental Disabilities Providers is committed to ensuring, strengthening and promoting the viability of community-based organizations that support people with developmental disabilities and their families.

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