COVID-19 has hit Lancaster County hard. But for Jaci Verghese, the virus hit way too close to home. Recently, Jaci lost her mom when the elderly woman became ill from other patients in a rehab center in another county.
While grieving the loss of her mom, Jaci, the chief of program services at Excentia, became even more determined to put the protocols in place to keep people served by her organization safe from the virus.
“We have 33 residential homes in Excentia for people with autism and developmental needs and not a single person has come down with COVID,” said Jaci.
Her goal to keep people safe was one of the reasons Jaci was excited to get a $5,000 Lancaster Cares Fund grant to help buy personal protection gear for the staff at Excentia.
“We were able to purchase masks, gowns, gloves, disinfecting wipes and other protection and we were able to get the supplies early on when it was difficult for a lot of places to get it,” Jaci said. “It was something that our employees didn’t have to worry about. It’s amazing that those kinds of things affect morale. So many places didn’t have those things.”
Excentia is a non-profit organization in Lancaster County that serves some 750 people throughout the county. Beyond their residential sites, the organization runs adult day care, day programs for all ages and provides support to individuals with disabilities.
“COVID affected us in the sense we were pretty scared in the beginning, as everyone was,” recalled Jaci. “In a pandemic, you can never be certain what your needs will be. We made modifications, opened up telehealth for pre-school and the behavioral health and support programs.”
Excentia also took a hard look at the residential homes to see how they could best serve them and mitigate any dangers to the people living there. It has apparently worked since there have been no positive cases of COVID to date among any of the clients.
“We were extremely grateful and excited to get this grant,” Jaci said. “But I’m not surprised, Lancaster County is always on the forefront to give back to their communities.”
~ Susan Baldrige
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