March 11 2020 Update on COVID-19 for the Fountain House Community

Posted on March 11, 2020

Dear Fountain House community,

Fountain House is monitoring the status of the COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) outbreak so we can share vital information with our community and will continue to do so over the coming weeks and months.

What do we know? What is new since last week?

Here in the US, confirmed cases of COVID-19 have now exceeded 1000 with more than 20 confirmed deaths. New York State has currently reported no deaths, but more than 200 confirmed cases. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has declared a state of emergency and enacted measures to stem the spread of the virus, such as establishing a containment zone in New Rochelle which is the epicenter of the outbreak in our state.

What is the impact on our population?

Some members of our community who experience chronic physical illnesses such as respiratory disease, diabetes, heart disease, and autoimmune diseases, face a greater risk of more severe symptoms and of complications from COVID-19 infection. Active smokers are also at higher risk of developing more severe illness and complications. Overall, the coronavirus epidemic and related coverage can increase anxiety, stress, and so focusing on wellbeing is important, including physical activity, healthy eating, and sleep.

What are we doing here at Fountain House?

  • We have established cleaning/disinfecting guidelines for the units in line with WHO/CDC recommendations. In addition, we are working to engage professional cleaners to help disinfect the clubhouse on weekends.
  • Units/social practitioners will be proactively screening members in units and throughout the clubhouse to make sure they are staying healthy.
  • Units will be continuing reach out calls and coordinating basic supplies (including food and hygiene items, if necessary) for members so they can self-quarantine safely and effectively.
  • Silver Center activities have been moved to the Guesthouse to protect our higher-risk residents living at 441.
  • Evening/Weekend programming will be evaluated to limit or cancel outside gatherings and large internal group events.
  • Non-social practitioner staff (Human Resources, Development, External Affairs, Center for Leadership and Education, Accounting and Finance, Supportive Housing, Active Reachout, Care Management) have been asked to work from home or limit time in the clubhouse.
  • We have rescheduled outside groups who were planning to gather at Fountain House (community boards, block association) to minimize exposure.
  • We are developing necessary protocols and contingency plans if our residences need to be quarantined.
  • We have stopped all official Fountain House travel out of state, and have asked staff to limit personal travel

How can I reduce the risk of exposure or transmission?

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue, cloth or sleeve when sneezing or coughing — do not use your hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds on all sides, or use an alcohol-based (minimum 70% alcohol) hand sanitizer.
  • Do not touch your face or mouth with unwashed hands
  • Do not share food, drink or eating utensils with others, if avoidable.
  • Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched items and surfaces, such as phones, computers, bathrooms and doorknobs.
  • If you are a smoker, stop using or limit cigarettes and vaping.Fountain House supports efforts to quit smoking through our smoking cessation group that meets every Tuesday at 3pm in the Guest House, located next door to Fountain House on West 47th Street. Alternatively, individuals can call the New York State Smokers Quitline at 866-NY-QUITS (866-697-8487).
  • Stay home if you do not feel well, especially if you have a fever (>100.4F) or active cough, and seek medical care early.

What should I do if I do not feel well?

Please stay home, especially if you have a fever (>100.4F) and/or active cough, and seek medical care early. Members should contact their primary care doctor, make an appointment at the Sidney R. Baer Jr. Center, or visit an urgent care clinic for evaluation.

If members are home sick, please call Fountain House at (212) 582-0340 during regular operating hours or the Fountain House Warm Line at (212) 956-0700 after hours to let us know. This information will enable us to keep track of incidence within our community and reach out to ensure you are resting, recovering, and have support for your basic needs.

If you believe you have been exposed to COVID-19 or are asked to self-quarantine, there is a guide attached to this letter.

Please share this message with members, staff and other community participants.

For the most up-to-date resources, information and guidance on the coronavirus epidemic, please consult the following resources:



Ashwin Vasan, M.D., PhD

President and CEO, Fountain House

Assistant Professor, Mailman School of Public Health and Vagelos College of Physicians & Surgeons at Columbia University


Ralph Aquila, M.D.

Medical Director and Director of the Center for Leadership and Education, Fountain House

Director, HRH/Brightpoint Health Sidney R. Baer Jr. Center


Craig Bayer

Member, Fountain House


Bianca Ortiz

Member, Fountain House


Self-Quarantine Member Support

 Fountain House is committed to providing much needed support to members who are quarantined during the COVID-19 outbreak. Fountain House knows that quarantines will be especially difficult for our members.

  • Staff/members will engage in assertive reach-out and have up-to-date information on the COVID-19 protocols for at-risk members. Coordinated by the Units & Silver Center.
  • We will have a virtual community using webex during normal programming hours for people to communicate and receive supports. Supported and coordinated by the Media & Technology Center.
  • We will support meal delivery services for members from the Culinary Unit to ensure proper nutrition and to support the quarantine. ERC will coordinate with Jack Rabbit and Culinary Unit.
  • Members without technological access to webex will be able to borrow Cricket phones to access the clubhouse during the period of their quarantine. Coordinated by Media & Technology Center.
  • Reach Out notes on Self Quarantined members will be reviewed by the Program Director to determine if they may return or if there is need for greater medical intervention and support.
  • Self-quarantined members will have access to greater warm-line services even after hours. This will be coordinated by Residential staff.
  • Self-Quarantined members will also receive a cleaning kit with easy to follow instructions. This will be coordinated by Home & Garden (and delivered via Jack Rabbit).
  • Fountain House will create a Clinical Support Team to provide emergency counseling and prescription medication support for those in Quarantine. This will be coordinated by Dr. Ralph Aquila.

Self-Quarantined members will receive a list of supports available to for the duration of their quarantine.


Awards + Recognition

BBB Accredited Charity

Our Global Partners

World Health Organization

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