Dana McConnell, Executive Director, Center for Developmental Services

    I remember the moment when CDS first realized we needed a plan for the looming pandemic.  It was Monday, March 2, 2020 during our monthly partner meeting with all the organization leaders at CDS.  We had just evaluated some of our programs and were about to move on to another topic when Dr. Desmond Kelly of Prisma Health Children’s Hospital asked about CDS’ plan if the coronavirus made its way to South Carolina.


    The initial reaction was to pause a moment, allowing the thought to sink in that this virus could actually be a threat to our community.  Then I remembered why our collaboration works so well…we benefit from each other’s resources.  The response was an assurance that CDS will work with Prisma Health to implement the highest standards recommended to keep our staff and families safe.


    The next few weeks were a whirlwind of conversations, emails and decisions between Janine Sally, Director of Kidnetics and the Wonder Center at Prisma Health, and Becky Jones, Director of Operations at CDS.  The priority was to keep our building open and continue the critical care our families needed. It was going to take a strong, collaborative effort and compliance from the other partners to keep our doors open.  Our partners worked together and stayed in constant communication to keep up with the latest information, guidance and statistics coming out of multiple news outlets.


    Salem & Isaac Maud with CDS staff member, Jataun Clark

    Before I continue, it’s important give a brief description about CDS.  The Center for Developmental Services (CDS) is a nonprofit located in downtown Greenville that links five other nonprofit organizations together to provide multiple services under one roof for children with developmental delays and disabilities. Our partners include Prisma Health (Kidnetics, Developmental Pediatrics, the Wonder Center, and Prosthetics and Orthotics), Clarity, Family Connection, Thrive Upstate, and a medical-legal partnership.  Together, we provide evaluation, therapy (speech, occupational, and physical), audiology, psychology, prosthetics, orthotics, legal aid, service coordination, education, and a medically fragile day care all surrounded by a family support network. Our goal is for these disability services in the Upstate to be delivered in the most streamlined, efficient way possible.


    The success of our partnership depends largely on the strength of each partner, and that has never been more apparent than in 2020.  With guidance from Prisma Health, CDS created a policy to limit the number of people in the building by encouraging family members to wait in their cars for appointments.  We have new procedures to disinfect the lobby furniture, hand rails, and other frequently touched surfaces every two hours.  We have removed items such as toys and books that are hard to clean, and we have socially distanced all the patient seating.


    Prisma Health is utilizing their hospital network to purchase all of our PPE needed for patients and staff throughout the building.  Kidnetics orders approximately 700-1,000 masks per week for all the building staff and the families who come to CDS.  Kidnetics has also been instrumental in obtaining the disinfectant chemicals that are specifically rated to combat the virus, a product our small nonprofit was unable to obtain.


    The Wonder Center has taken the lead on staffing a dedicated nurse at the entrance to take temperature readings and ask the full list of screening questions of every patient, staff member, or guest.  If anyone has been exposed recently or is found to have symptoms related to the virus, our policy follows the latest quarantine restrictions to protect the health and safety of our families.


    These policies and procedures were the result of multiple stakeholders coming together for a common purpose.  Our single, biggest level of success here at CDS this year is that we were able to keep our building open during the height of the pandemic when many other programs and businesses had to temporarily close.  I am immensely proud of our partners and the collaboration we share. It is through this collective effort that we are able to serve children and individuals with developmental delays and disabilities so they can get the vital services they need, even during a worldwide pandemic.