NNEC & COVID-19: New England Programs Distance Together
As therapeutic programs and schools across the country work to stay ahead of the risk to their communities and their organizations from the spread of the coronavirus, the Northern New England Consortium of schools and programs (NNEC) is living its purpose of continually working toward program excellence during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Consortium was formed in 2018 to support “the advancement of its members through collaborative efforts fostering the delivery of evidence-based practices, program management, leadership development, and collective outreach.” The founding members of NNEC are:
- Onward Transitions
- Summit Achievement
- Cornerstones of Maine
- Mountain Valley Treatment Center
- Shortridge Academy
- PATH at Stone Summit
- Spruce Mountain Inn
- Mansfield Hall
Since its founding in 2018, NNEC has provided a platform for the progressive exchange of ideas, organizational collaboration, and inter-organizational training and staff development. As the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic spread, NNEC program representatives immediately began connecting and collaborating, exchanging ideas and practices about critical elements of operations. The programs continue to connect regularly to share resources and evidence-based practices, and to collaborate on problem-solving measures – all done synchronously and on occasion, in real-time as challenges emerge.
Much like the Governors of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont actively engaging in planning processes together, the membership of NNEC continues to be in close contact. Because the Consortium is made up of programs in regionalized, contiguous states with similar demographics, they share similar local governance and assets. As these three states begin to release details about safely opening back-up their economies, NNEC leaders reflected on some of the initiatives that they have worked together on over the past six weeks:
- Restructuring staffing patterns to create a “deep bench” philosophy, ensuring for enhanced community safety.
- Discussing sound and ethical business practices to ensure the safe continuation of services while meeting the changing financial needs of families.
- Implementing new training policies and procedures for staff on COVID-19 specific prevention, control, and management practices.
- Reviewing and sharing information and best practices for cleaning, sterilizing, equipping, and protecting clients and staff.
- Refining safe admissions and health screening practices for residential-based programs.
- Enhancing the use of telemental health and virtual services, specifically for programs that have moved all, or a portion of their services, online.
- Participating in national leadership forums as presenters and speakers on current topics related to the current pandemic.
- Understanding and forecasting for general industry and economic trends.
NNEC leaders are confident in their shared ability to manage this current crisis, and in supporting clients in the ensuing recovery from it as mental health and education services will likely trend to being needed more than ever. Additionally, NNEC is currently exploring virtual alternatives for their annual training and conference in June.