Continuing Updates COVID-19


March 22, 2021 – Visitation Update

Linked below please find updated visitation guidance from the Department of Developmental Services. The following items have been updated:


  • When an individual and their family members have all been fully vaccinated, visitation can occur in the individual’s bedroom without masks or social distancing so long as the bedroom is not shared.
  • Individuals can share meals with family members in their residential programs, but should practice social distancing.
  • There is a different attestation form for family visits that will occur in the family home.

Venture will continue to host visits in its homes under the following guidelines:

  • Visits must be scheduled in advance
  • COVID prevention measures (mask wearing and social distancing) must be practiced in common areas
  • Individuals and/or their family members who have not been vaccinated must practice COVID prevention measures and must visit in common areas.
  • COVID screenings and hand sanitation must be completed prior to entering the home.

With your cooperation and precautions, we have kept transmissions rates exceptionally low. For the sake of the people we support and their very dedicated staff, we would like to continue with our efforts to maintain health and safety.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation. Please contact me if you have any questions.

Pam Sampson, Chief Program Officer

DDS Visitation Guidance

DDS Off-Site Visitation Form


February 25, 2021 – Visitation Update

I am pleased to announce that effective immediately family visitation in programs will resume to include overnight visits to their family’s homes so long as there has not been a positive case of COVID diagnosed in the prior 14 days in your home or the home of your loved one (a Venture residential program). When there is a positive case of COVID diagnosed in one of our homes, families of the people living in that home will be advised that the program has been quarantined and when the quarantine will end for the program.

Read Full Guidelines


January 13, 2021 – Sturbridge Day Re-Opening Status

The Sturbridge Day Program will be re-opening on Tuesday, January 19, 2021.


January 11, 2021 – Sturbridge Day Update

The Sturbridge Day Program will remain closed through at least Wednesday (1/13/21). At that time, we will provide another update.


January 6, 2021 – Sturbridge Day Program Temporarily Closed

Please note that we have temporarily closed the Sturbridge Day Hab out of precaution due to a COVID exposure. The duration of the closure is undetermined at this time, and we will reassess the situation on Friday at which time we will provide an additional update. We will continue to provide our virtual programming and nursing support through telehealth.

Please contact Aaron Fill for further information.


Dec 30, 2020 – Uxbridge Day Program Closed

UPDATE: We will be closing the Uxbridge Day Program until Monday, January 4 for a deep cleaning due to a potential COVID exposure. We are doing this with the utmost of caution and all participant families should have received a call with further information. We will continue to communicate any updates concerning the re-opening. Please contact Peter Corrado for further information.


Nov. 19, 2020 – Sturbridge Day Program Closed

The Sturbridge Day Program will be closed until Monday, November 30 due to a potential COVID exposure. During this time the program will be professionally cleaned and disinfected. Please contact Kristin Dryjowicz for further information.


Nov. 13, 2020 – Testing Resources

At our town hall meeting on Wednesday night, it was suggested that other COVID-19 testing resources be provided so that families can have their loved ones at home for the holidays.
While Venture cannot fund this, the following is a link to an in-home test that can be mailed away for results. The results take 24-48 hours to come back. You have to purchase the test in advance. 
https://www.everlywell.com/products/covid-19-test/


Please check the Stop the Spread website for locations and times of COVID testing for asymptomatic people. The link to this website is below:
https://www.mass.gov/info-details/stop-the-spread


Nov. 10, 2020 – Updated Visitation

As I am sure you’re aware, news reports indicate a surge of positive COVID-19 cases. As a result of routine testing that Venture is conducting of its staff, there has been an increase in positive cases at our agency. Currently there are five programs with staff who have tested positive and two programs where individuals have tested positive. The staff who have tested positive have been removed from the schedule and will quarantine in accordance with CDC guidelines. Parents and guardians for the people who live in each of these programs have been notified.

To try to limit the spread of the virus, we have suspended all unnecessary outside visitation, such as our Quality Assurance, Professional Development and Behavioral staff. To this end, we will also make the following changes to our visitation policy, effective immediately:

  • In-program in person visitation will be suspended. In pre-approved special circumstances (i.e., the individual or their family member is terminally ill/on hospice and this would be their last/only opportunity to visit), we will work with families to make accommodations for a visit. If you are in need of this sort of accommodation, please contact the Residential Program Director who oversees the home where your loved one lives.
  • Routine visits to family homes will be suspended. The exceptions to this will be Thanksgiving and Christmas. If a family visit is to occur, the individual will have to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test to return to the program. While not the preferred method, this can be a rapid test.
  • Families can continue with outdoor visitation at the program if they wish, following the previously published precautions.

We believe that instituting this change will help stem the spread of the virus. We had relatively few cases in the spring and hope to keep the people we support and our dedicated staff team healthy during this crisis.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation.


Sept. 24, 2020 – Updated Visitation

I am writing to let you know that the Department of Disabilities Services (DDS) has issued updated guidance for indoor visitation in our residential homes. These new guidelines go into effect on October 1, 2020. I have included the DDS guidelines for your reference. The following policies will be put into effect:


  • All visits must be arranged in advance (please see procedures below)
  • Only 2 visitors are allowed at one time
  • All visitors must follow standard COVID-19 transmission precautions
    • Visitors must complete the COVID-19 checklist with staff immediately prior to the visit, including having temperatures taken by staff
      • Visitors who have COVID-19 symptoms will not be permitted to visit
      • “At-risk” people (elderly and those will underlying chronic illness such as diabetes or high blood pressure) should refrain from visiting.
      • Visitors who have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 14 days will not be allowed to visit
    • Masks/face coverings must be worn by visitors
    • Visitors must practice hand hygiene (hand washing/hand sanitizing) upon entry into the home
    • Visitors must practice social distancing
  • Each program will designate an area where visits can take place. Most of our homes have a second sitting/gathering area which can be used for this purpose. This will allow for some privacy and will serve as a protection for the other people who live in the home and staff who are working there.
  • Visits will not be allowed in programs who have a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case in the previous 14 days
  • Visits may be longer than 30 minutes, but we are asking families to keep the time reasonable for the comfort and safety of everyone who lives and works in the home.
  • Program staff will implement COVID-19 cleaning procedures to disinfect the visiting area immediately following the visit

Families and staff should use the following procedures for visitation:

  • Families should call the program in advance to arrange a visitation time at least 24 hours in advance. More noticed is preferred and appreciated.
  • Program managers will call all families if there is a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case in the home (for residents or staff).
  • Visitation will be put on hold for 14 days. Program managers will inform families when visitation can resume.

Please note that these visitation guidelines can change at any time at the discretion of Venture or DDS. We clearly want to encourage family visits and keep the people we support and our employees safe at the same time.

I ask that you follow the precautions carefully for everyone’s benefit. Our staff do a great job caring for your loved ones day in and day out.  I want to make sure they are never in the awkward position of having to tell a family member they can’t visit due to signs of illness.

Best regards,

Pam Sampson, Chief Program Officer


Visitation Guidance for DDS Residential Programs_Updated 9-23-2020 (1)Download


August 24, 2020 – Surveillance Testing

Dear Parents & Guardians, I am writing to give you some information about Surveillance COVID-19 testing. The Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) is requiring that all human services vendors institute surveillance testing of the employees who work in our residential programs. This testing is being mandated to get baseline data for COVID-positive cases.

The testing will be conducted as follows:

  • During the weeks of September 1st until September 15th, all Venture employees who work in our programs will be required to be tested for COVID-19.
  • After the initial surveillance period, Shannon Slattery, Venture’s Director of Nursing, will check the mass.gov website to determine the previous period’s COVID-19 transmission rate for the regions where Venture programs are located (regions 2, 4, and 5).
  • If the COVID-19 transmission rate is under 40 cases per 100,000 people in the region, the region is consider a “low transition region” and no additional staff testing is necessary in that region for that specific 2-week time period.
  • If the COVID-19 transmission rate is at 40 or more cases per 100,000 people in the region, the region is consider a “high transition region” and additional staff testing is necessary in that region for that specific 2-week time period.
  • Since programs are located in different regions, one region may be subject to testing when others are not. For example, Region 5 program could be required to test while Region 4 programs are not required. The majority of Venture’s programs are located in Region 2.

If staff are found to be positive in any program, the following things will happen:

  • Every person who lives in the home will be required to have a COVID-19 test. This is an EOHHS mandate.
  • The Residential Program Director will contact the families and/or guardians of any person living in the home to alert them that a staff member has tested positive.
    • They are not authorized to reveal which staff has tested positive. This is employee health information which Venture is legally required to protect.
  • The staff will be taken off the schedule to self-quarantine for 10 days (from the date of the initial test). This is in compliance with Massachusetts COVID-19 mandates.
  • The individuals in the program will shelter in place until the test results for the people who live in the home are acquired.
    • No outside visitors will be allowed.
    • No visitation to family homes/family functions will be allowed.
    • No community outings will be allowed.
    • No out-of-home day programming will be allowed.
  • We will try to limit the number of staff in and out of the program to the greatest extent possible by instituting longer shifts where it’s feasible.
  • If any of the individuals living in the home are found to be positive for COVID-19, the program will remain on shelter in place status for 14 days from the date that testing was performed.
    • The program will be provided with enhanced personal protective equipment in order to prevent further transmission.
  • If none of the individuals who live in the home test positive for COVID-19, activities and visits can resume as normal.

While inconvenient, these measures are being put into place to protect the health and safety of the people who receive supports and the very dedicated staff who provide those services.

If you have questions about this information, please feel free to contact me by email at psampson@venturecs.org or by calling (508) 347-8181.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation.


July 30, 2020 – Virtual Town Hall

Parents, guardians, families & providers. You are invited to take part in our 2nd Virtual Town Hall on Wednesday, August 12 at 6:30pm. We have mailed and emailed the meeting link to all. If you still need to get the link, send your name and email address to: info@venturecs.org

During this meeting, the agency’s Program Operations Team will provide updates on day hap re-opening, in-home programming and safe ways to increase community access.


July 3, 2020 – Visitation Guidelines

From: Pam Sampson

I am writing to share the new visitation guidelines published by the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) that go into effect on July 3, 2020. Venture is contractually bound to follow these guidelines which have been put into the place to allow safe family visiting in programs and outside of the homes. I have attached two documents: the DDS policy and an attestation form. The following is a synopsis of the new visitation policy:


Program visitation:

  • Family members may continue to visit programs. The same rules apply:
    • Visits need to be scheduled in advance
    • Visits need to occur outside
    • Visits are limited to 2 visitors at a time
  • Staff need to take the same precautions: check visitors’ temperatures and ask if they have any COVID symptoms or have tested positive for COVID in the previous 14 days
    • People with temperatures over 100, symptoms of COVID, or a positive COVID test in the previous 14 days will not be permitted to visit
  • Everyone should wear masks (if the person receiving support isn’t tolerant, it is not required)
  • Everyone should practice social distancing as much as possible, but hugging is allowed
    • If there is physical contact, visitors and the person receiving supports should use hand sanitizer prior to the physical contact
  • Visitors that a hug with faces pointed in opposite directions is preferred
  • Visits must be monitored by staff

Off-site visitation:

Off-site visitation is allowed. Here are the rules:

  • If the individual has symptoms of COVID or has tested positive for COVID, they cannot leave the home for visitation
  • Prior to leaving the home, the individual and the visitor must have their temperature taken. If either person has a fever over 100F, the off-site visitation cannot take place
  • Prior to leaving, the family member must fill out the attestation form. This form must be completed every time someone goes for a family visit. If someone is picked up on two consecutive days, a separate form must be filled out EACH time they leave the program for a visit. The form is kept by the program.
    • The form also includes contact tracing information. This must be filled out for any known people that the person may come into contact with during the visit.
    • I have provided this form for you to review. It may also be more convenient for you to fill out the form at your home and bring the completed from with you to the visit/pick up.
  • Visits should avoid conditions where social distancing is difficult. For example, going to a department store or a crowded beach is discouraged
  • If the person is staying overnight in the family home, it is preferred that they have their own sleeping quarters or sleep at least 6 feet away from any other person
  • If the individual develops COVID symptoms while visiting off-site, the family should be advised to get the person medical attention.  If this is the case, please contact the program. Staff will speak with their Regional Director for consultation with nursing. They will provide direction about how program staff should proceed.
    • The individual may not be able to return to the program until they’re symptom free if there is no viable place for them to isolate while awaiting test results.
  • Upon return, program staff will closely monitor the person for COVID symptoms and continue with the practice of daily temperature taking
  • Family members who have visited should inform programs if they develop COVID symptoms or test positive in the days after a visit. Program staff will work with nursing staff to determine the best course of action to keep the individual, their housemates and their staff safe.

Please note that these guidelines are subject to change by DDS, depending on the status of COVID-19 in Massachusetts. We will keep you abreast of any changes in these policies, but they will remain in effect until further notice.


I am certain that you are all looking forward to the opportunity to visit your family member and be able to have physical contact. Thank you in advance for your observation of these guidelines. Your cooperation will allow our staff to continue to do the very important work that they do every single day: taking care of your loved ones and ensuring the health of the people that Venture supports. Please contact me at psampson@venturecs.org if you have any questions or concerns.


June 25, 2020

Parents, guardians, families & providers. You are invited to take part in our Virtual Town Hall on Wednesday, July 8th at 6:30pm. To get the meeting link, send your name and email address to: info@venturecs.org

During this meeting, the agency’s Program Operations Team will give families and guardians updates on what is happening in Venture’s residential and day programs. The plan is to hold these meetings at least quarterly throughout the year to improve the agency’s communication efforts.

We will discuss day hab reopening plans and visitation guidelines. We anticipate additional guidance from DDS and MassHealth, so we will be able to provide updated information. Please feel free to send me other topics that you would like discussed so that we can prepare a family-driven agenda. That agenda will be published prior to the email.

We will be conducting the meeting virtual town hall style. All participants will be muted to reduce distraction from background noises. In addition to agenda items, we will enable the chat feature so that we can address any questions or concerns families may have at the end of the formal agenda.

We hope you can join us!


June 22, 2020

#dontcutusout

As you may know, Venture and other human services providers are feeling the financial effects of the COVID-19 crisis. Due to increased staffing costs for shelter in place and quarantine coverage and the need to purchase additional personal protective equipment to keep people healthy and safe, we are looking for continued fiscal support from our funders.

We are asking for your assistance to let our legislators in Massachusetts know how vital it is to continue to support Venture and our sister agencies. Following is a link to The Arc of Massachusetts’s website. There is a simple online form to fill out which will go to Governor Baker, Speaker DeLeo and Senate President Spilka to let them know how important safety net funding is and that as their constituent, you support it. Thank you in advance for your help! https://bit.ly/2VjTTtR


June 15, 2020

Parents, guardians, families & providers. Please take our brief survey for the re-opening of our three day programs. Your feedback is essential and appreciated!Take the Survey


June 8, 2020

VISITATION GUIDELINES: Please find the guidance that Venture received from the Department of Developmental Services about visitation resuming in our residential programs. Venture is bound to minimally uphold these guidelines. While I encourage you to read the entire document, here are the highlights:


VISITS:

  • Visitations must be scheduled in advance
  • Visitations can last no longer than 30 minutes
  • Visitations must occur outside
  • Visitations will be monitored by Venture staff

VISITORS:

  • Visitors must wear face masks
  • Visitors must practice social distancing. This means no hugging, hand holding or other common signs of physical affection and maintaining a physical distance of at least 6 feet from your loved one.
  • Visitors cannot enter the home for any reason
  • Visitors must submit to pre-visit screening, which includes a temperature check at the program. If the visitor has a fever over 100F, they will not be allowed to visit

LIMITATIONS

  • Only two people can visit at a time
  • Anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 in the previous 14 days or has been ordered by their healthcare provider to quarantine cannot visit
  • Visitors who experience COVID-19 symptoms (shortness of breath, fever, cough, chills, sore throat, muscle pain, loss of taste/smell) or test positive for COVID-19 up to 2 days after the visit must contact the home so that residents can be monitored for COVID-19 and tested as necessary.

If your loved one will have difficulty with the limitation on visits, we ask that you refrain from visiting until restrictions are lifted further. Some people we support may have challenging behavior when faced with not being able to hug loved ones, visiting for short amounts of time, and not being able to leave the program with loved ones.


We know that these limitations are challenging. We hope that our collective continued vigilance will keep your loved ones and the very dedicated staff who care for them healthy and safe. As such, we are unable to make any exceptions to this policy until we receive further direction from the Department of Developmental Services.


Thank you in advance for your understanding.


April 23, 2020

Venture in the Sturbridge Villager


April 11, 2020

Venture in the local news:

SPECTRUM TV WORCESTER

WPRI 12 PROVIDENCE


April 9, 2020

Message to all Venture Staff from Mike

Good morning Venture.  Today I’m reaching out to tell you how grateful the agency and everyone else connected to us is for all of the work that you all continue doing.  Today marks the 25th day that we have all been dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and I’m sure for a great many of us it feels even longer.  We have seen a total of 3 positive tests in separate programs among the people we support and I would suggest that the relatively small number is a testament to the skillful work being done in each of our programs.  The individuals were hospitalized and at least 2 have recovered well enough to be close to discharge.  Shannon, our Director of Nursing, is working directly with the hospitals to manage safe transition plans back to the agency when the time is appropriate.  Our quarantine center in Sturbridge is ready to deploy if and when needed after a water issue this week.  Big shout outs to the people in our Facilities Department for immediately digging in to a huge mess in order to make the facility available again.  It was not an easy task.


Unfortunately, we have had a couple of employees also test positive to date and we all wish them a complete recovery as quickly as possible.  We will of course be reaching out to them to see how they are doing and what they may need.  Several staff have also needed to be quarantined at home due to possible exposure and we certainly hope their 14 days pass peacefully and without any symptoms of the virus.  We continue to get guidance from several sources every day and we know that each agency in the state is facing the same challenges we are.  Fortunately, most agencies are communicating and sharing ideas and resources with each other, which is a nice change of pace.


As you know, almost all Venture homes are essentially sheltering in place right now in an effort minimize the exposure risk to the individuals we support, many of whom have considerable medical issues.  It is absolutely humbling to see so many of our staff step in to do everything in their power to keep these people safe.  Our advocacy is entirely focused now on helping the workforce, including employees who temporarily have no hours because they have been unable to shelter in place.  Congress will soon be debating another stimulus package and we have been aggressive in making sure that this one specifically identifies direct care professionals and their supervisors as a group that needs immediate financial support.  Several people in the Senate have agreed that this should be a priority and that is promising.  In terms of safety, Venture and other providers are pushing for mobile COVID-19 testing that can be deployed to homes.  DDS is trying to finalize an initiative that would do just this and allow testing to be brought directly to individuals and employees.  Of course, we continue to leave no stone unturned to acquire protective equipment for staff and we have orders for gowns and masks, at least some of which we hope to have in-house next week.  We will keep working with other agencies to create a stockpile of these items and will not stop working with the state and federal government to remember our employees and the their need for protection as they do such amazing work. 


Thank you for all your efforts, not just in the past 25 days but every day all year long!


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.

Mike


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 venturecs.org and on our Facebook page.


Best regards,

Mike Hyland, President & CEO

Stop & Shop Community Bag Program

From March 1 – March 31, Venture will be taking part in the Stop & Shop Community Bag Program! For the entire month of March, when you purchase a $2.50 reusable Community Bag at the Stop & Shop located
at 100 Charlton Rd, Sturbridge, $1 is donated to Venture. We encourage you to share this news with family and friends as well. The Community Bags are located on displays around the store and at the checkout. For more information about the program, please visit stopandshop.bags4mycause.com.  Thank you!

2020 Satisfaction Survey

Venture strives to provide superior support services to individuals with developmental disabilities. By taking the time to give your feedback, you contribute to our continuing efforts to improve our services to fit the needs of the individuals we serve.


Thank you in advance for your time. Your response is requested prior to January 31st, 2021 and will be reviewed by the Office of Quality Assurance and responded to as necessary.


Join Our Human Rights Committee

Your Opportunity to Make a Difference! We currently have space available to serve on our Human Rights Committee.

Looking for: 


~ A psychologist or master level clinician 
~ An attorney, law student, or paralegal 
~ Registered Nurse or LPN or physician
~ General committee members 


Learn more here: https://venturecs.org/learn-more/human-rights-committee/ or contact Robby Dookhran at rdookhran@venturecs.org

Hope for 2019

I was recently watching a 2018 retrospective news program that featured people who demonstrate hope on a daily basis, despite facing some adverse circumstances. Politically and culturally, 2018 was a year of heightened emotions and challenges. These people displayed hope in small and large ways throughout their personal and professional lives.

After watching this, it occurred to me that many of the people I work with also demonstrate hope on a daily basis in the course of their work. Sheila and Jodie put together a last minute trip to Springfield to see the holiday lights display for some of the people who are supported in Individual Supports and Shared Living – everyone had a great time! Deb, Maria, and Ericka spent a couple of evenings decorating holiday cookies with children from the Uxbridge area who have autism. Rhonda and Nana took Virginia to Disney World so she could have her dream trip.

Paige dedicated a huge amount of time to ensuring that all the people supported by Venture each got holiday present by soliciting donations to make that happen. Ashley, Kevin, Bruce, Robby, Rick, Dot, and countless others spent hours wrapping those presents. Mabel and Loveline took Jenny, Denzel, and Bonnie to a Make It and Take It event so they could spend some time with meeting new friends and make some crafts. Gina has rallied her staff to host a number of events to help Dan, Nick and Ben celebrate holidays with their families in their new home. Katie, Carolyn, and Shannon helped Venture staff teams all over the state to ensure that the medical care provided is in the best interest of the people Venture serves in its programs. Kathy, Zach, Laurie and Kevin are participating in a work group to improve employee retention and improve the ways that Venture appreciates its employees.

Mark, Luisa, Annmarie, Gina, Greg, Wilma, Jen and William all banded together and created a Friendsgiving feast that more than 50 individuals served by Venture attended. Christa, Albert, Dave, Todd, Dan, Dot, Kim and many others devoted time and energy to finding a new home for Mark, Richard, David and Jason that better suits their needs which have changed as they have gotten older. Walter, Lindsey, Jack, and Antonio have collectively spent thousands of hours training Venture’s staff team that has impacted the staffs’ ability to deliver quality services.

Hope was demonstrated in the face of adversity, too. Monica, Richard, Tiffany, Johnny, Tim, Don and countless others came together to assist in assisting Danny, Charmagne, Rita, Peter, and their housemates when the furnace in their home exploded. Fortunately, no one was hurt and the team quickly came together to make sure everyone was comfortable and had a place to stay while the furnace was replaced and the home was deemed habitable by the local authorities. Kevin, Jason and Scott helped Nick, Gustavo and Elaine learn techniques so that they could participate in meaningful activities during their day. Jennifer, Anita, Doug, and Katie advocated tirelessly to make sure that Marilyn was comfortable in the final days of her life.

David and John spent months ensuring the Steven’s medical concerns were being in addressed in the way that Steven wanted them to be handled – he was able to make choices with dignity, and the decisions he made were respected by his staff team. Sam, Fatuma and Tim devoted many hours and a lot of effort to coaching staff to make the lives of Randy, Michael, Frank and Brian markedly calmer and more enjoyable. They also welcomed Gerry with open arms and have supported him to become a valued member of the home. Doug, Allaire, Allison, James, Rose and Titus worked together to transition Brennan to another program that better suited his needs.

While different motivations probably prevail, the underlying theme is hope. Our employees act in the hope of making the lives of people with disabilities better in big and small ways. This much is clear – I am privileged and fortunate to work with a great collection of fabulous people whose work makes me proud of the organization. If we continue to approach 2019 with the same dedication, vigor and hope as we did in 2018, it’s sure to be another phenomenal year, despite any challenges that lay ahead.

When given the choice of facing the sometimes saddening realities of our world or looking around my immediate environment and being impressed with the terrific work that happens day after day, I will choose hope every time.

Outstanding Direct Support Professional

The Outstanding Direct Support Professional award is presented to a Venture employee who: Consistently demonstrates commitment and dedication to the agency’s core values of honesty, integrity, respect, innovation, and compassion and advocates for individuals we support & takes initiative to make things better

Being honored this year is Sheila Swift from the Venture Individual Supports Department.  Sheila was presented the award at the Venture Wine & Beer Tasting on November 8th.

Following is an excerpt from her nomination:

Sheila has worked with individuals with developmental disabilities throughout her whole career.  For Sheila, working in this field is not a job but a passion.  There are a number of examples that could be given that exemplifies Sheila’s commitment to the individuals she serves, however this one moment in particular stands out and needs to be noted and celebrated:

Earlier this year, an individual on Sheila’s caseload was having emotional difficulty stemming from never being able to attend services for his parents who had passed away years ago.  The individual remembered the cemetery was in Worcester where his parents were laid to rest, but that was all. Sheila did her research and found the individual’s mom and dad’s burial site.  Sheila called the Pastor from the local church and assisted the individual in preparing and scheduling a ceremony at his parent’s grave.  The individual picked up balloons and had his parent’s name placed on them, which was released from the gravesite along with lighted religious candles.  On a Sunday morning, Sheila accompanied the individual to his parent’s gravesite where a private religious ceremony was held.  The individual shared with Sheila that he was at peace now with his parent’s passing after being part of such a meaningful ceremony.

Congratulations to all of the nominees:

* Bridget Essuman, Mechanic St A

* Debra Lovewell, Hope Street

* Evelyn Odonkor-Boudrea, Route 31

* Hayford Htim, Pike Avenue

* Jean Albihome, Residential Relief

* Karen Mwangi, Residential Relief

* Matt Tillotson, Sturbridge Day

* Scott Bagley, Uxbridge Day

* Tammy Perron, Leominster Day

* Marguerite Maboupda-Tamgno, Crawford A

Autism Service Family Forum

Venture Community Services is hosting their first autism services parent and family forum at our Uxbridge Day Program (670 Douglas Street, Uxbridge) on Thursday, February 22nd at 5:30 pm.  We are interested in your input and suggestions!

Venture is looking to determine the needs of the children with autism and their families in the Blackstone Valley region in the areas of clinical support, social and recreational opportunities, life skills development, and vocational options.  We believe that families are our best indication of how we can help – and we would really like to hear from you.  We will be joined by Mike Hyland, President and CEO; Kevin Hughes, Vice President of Day Services and BCBA/LABA; and Kyle Murray, Vice President of Quality Assurance and Clinical Services.

Please RSVP to Paige at pmador@venturecs.org or 774-922-1135 to indicate that you will be attending.  We are also able to provide supervision for your child by a trained staff member while you participate in the meeting, so please include that in your email if you are interested.

We look forward to hearing about how we can help serve your community.

A New Year Has Arrived

By Mike Hyland, President and CEO

Another year has passed and a new one is now beginning.  This annual event always provides us with two opportunities: to look back or to look ahead.  Looking back can be exhausting, so let’s spend a couple of minutes looking ahead.  Each new year begins only once and this is the time to wonder what 2018 can be.  I believe it can be a year of hope.

Let’s hope this will be the year when the incredibly dedicated direct-care staff who choose to work with people with developmental disabilities and other needs are recognized as the talented professionals they are.  That everyone finally realizes the value these amazing people bring to our society every day and the critical importance of their profession.  Without them, people with disabilities would still be living in facilities that remove them from the community rather than in nice homes that allow them to be a vibrant part of it.  Worse yet, many people who need help simply would not have it.  The men and women who encompass the human services profession deserve to be paid an appropriate wage commensurate with the challenging and meaningful work they do every day.

Let’s hope 2018 will be the year when people with disabilities are no longer stigmatized.  That it will be a year where everyone with a disability is treated with respect and dignity at school, at work, and in the neighborhood.  This can be the year we all acknowledge that people with disabilities are still abused at a much higher rate than those without disabilities.  They are bullied and dismissed and taken advantage of at an alarming rate and every leader needs to stand up and say that this is a national problem that needs immediate attention.  Now is a time to hope that failures to adequately address the issue in previous years can be erased by sweeping action.

Let’s hope this is the year that our society sees a seismic turn back toward civility.  That we can look back in 2019 and say that the old year was when people remembered what it is like to work together on behalf of others, to create resources that allow everyone to thrive, and to finally ensure that those who need help are never left behind again.  2018 can be a time when the nation returns to acceptance in place of derision and where discussion replaces argument.  For too long now we have allowed leaders and people in power to treat those who disagree with them as enemies rather than as people with a different point of view.  Those who need help are usually caught in the middle of this divide and we should all hope that the people who have put them there realize they’re part of the problem.

Finally, let’s hope that the New Year will be one where everyone can agree that those who need help should get it and that a society is strengthened when it takes care of them.  People don’t ask to be born with a disability or to be homeless or to hear voices.  Creating programs that help these people to achieve maximum independence is not merely compassionate, it is cost-effective.  There is no shame in needing help to move forward, or at least there shouldn’t be.  Let’s hope we can look back on 2018 someday and point to it as the year when we all agreed that people who needed assistance were able to find it and those who provided it were finally identified as the gifted professionals they have always been.