COVID-19 Strategy Update (2/1/2021)
A Message from our CEO, Wendy Sullivan
I hope you are staying safe and well.
As we head into February, I am excited to share a few updates with you. Late last week, Governor Parson shared the next steps in the phased approach to get Missourians vaccinated for Covid-19. The Governor stated that Phase 1B Tier 1 was actively underway. That announcement started the process of the Easterseals Midwest staff accessing the vaccine. I am thrilled to share that we have begun to work with partners across the state to ensure that all of our team can access the vaccine.
I am sending this message a day later than usual because I wanted to share that as of yesterday, Monday, February 1, 2021, we have had more than 300 staff members in Kansas City, Springfield, St. Louis, and St. Joseph receive the vaccine. Yesterday, we were able to host our first mass vaccination event. Like everyone, we are excited to see the possibility of life returning to a new normal due to people being able to access the vaccine.
However, we are also proceeding cautiously. All of our current safety policies regarding program operations or in-person services remain in place. We hope that this spring, we may
be in a position to reduce some of these barriers to programs - time will tell.
New Strategic Plan
As I shared in previous messages throughout 2020, we developed a strategic plan to move our organization forward. Through surveys, focus groups, and interviews, we gathered information to drive forward our mission, ensuring that our strategy highlights what we are doing right and strengthens those programs and our commitment to the areas we can improve. With your input and thousands of other stakeholders as a guide, we have committed to a future that holds key promises of action for the people we support, our staff, advocacy efforts, and our future financial sustainability.
We look forward to sharing this plan with you in April.
This spring, Easterseals Midwest is launching a new initiative meant to address a persistent and troubling issue - the racial disparity in autism diagnosis and treatment. Data reveals that Black children are far less likely to be screened for autism and often diagnosed two years later than their white peers. When it comes to autism diagnosis, we know that early diagnosis can make all the difference in a child's future. We are honored to be partnering with Abbott Pharmaceuticals on a new nitiative called the Black Child Fund, which will raise awareness of this issue and provide services such as family navigation and autism screening for families in need. The initial project focuses on the Kansas City and St. Louis metro areas, and we hope this will elevate the national conversation about this issue. The pandemic has heightened our awareness of the Black community's health disparities, which begin early in life. Through the Easterseals Black Child Fund, we intend to change this fact.
Finally, we will continue to focus on sharing our story and impact with our partners, and although we will not be hosting in-person events this spring, we are hoping to return to some normality this fall. Please keep an eye out for information related to our 35th annual golf tournament scheduled for Sunday, September 19, and Monday, September 20, 2021 - it is our sincere hope that everyone who wants a COVID-19 vaccine by that time will have been able to receive one. In addition to golf, we look forward to sharing with you several other new and exciting initiatives and educational activities that we have planned towards the end of the calendar year.
As always, please take care, and if we can be of any assistance to someone you know, please don't hesitate to reach out.
Chief Executive Officer