3/20/20 - Message to Division of Mental Health Providers - Residential Programs

Friday, March 20th, 2020

Dear Providers,

First, I want to thank you and your staff for all that you are doing to keep individuals with SMI safe and supported during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your work is appreciated and valued. The Division of Mental Health would like to continue to support you in your efforts. We are here to help.

Please see below for guidance and direction from the Division.

Questions, Concerns & Support

You should continue to use your DMH program contacts for any issues as they relate to the individuals you serve.

Program 620: James.White@illinois.gov

Program 820: Helen.McCaskill@illinois.gov

Program 830: Veronica.Trimble@illinois.gov

Program 860: Ashley.Bae@illinois.gov

Stay at Home Order

While the Stay at Home Order has been invoked, please be advised that all staff of DMH grant funded residential services are considered essential staff. Your staff should continue to go to work.

Please see further guidance:

Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection

We have received requests for guidance on effective cleaning of site with potential and confirmed COVID-19 contact. The coronavirus (COVID-19) is spread by respiratory secretions (coughing or sneezing) that may remain on surfaces and transmit infection for an unknown period of time. CDC recommendations can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/organizations/cleaningdisinfection.html

Restricting residential home activities during Stay at Home Order

  • All staff should continue to go to work.
  • A screening protocol, including a temperature check, should continue to be applied (or implemented if not currently practicing) for all staff prior to shift start.
  • Families interested in taking their loved ones home should understand that they may be required to have them there for an extended period.
  • In addition to ensuring that stay at home requirements are met, providers must also continue to ensure that social, medical, and mental health needs are considered, including: ?Provision of basic needs like food, medications, and laundry.
    • Mental health, faith-based, and social service needs and resources to help pass the time
    • Assistance in accessing television, movies, radio, board/card games,or books
    • Communication needs (e.g. working cellular phone, internet, etc.).
    • Provision of supplies needed for personal hygiene.
    • Support needs, including but not limited to, access to family members and friends by electronic and telephonic means.

Personal Protective Gear

  • The availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other health and safety supplies during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is having a significant impact on all providers.
  • First and foremost, providers, should always attempt to utilize their open marketplace contacts and suppliers as their first option to order enough supplies to mindfully plan for current and future needs.
  • In the event of an emergency, when providers are unable to locate or secure necessary supplies on their own in the marketplace, providers should communicate their health and safety supply needs to their local health department.

Positive COVID-19 Guidance

At this time, it is imperative that you continue to follow the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) website to ensure you have up to date information on providing care to an individual with a confirmed case of COVID-19.

IDPH COVID-19 Website:


In particular, the guidance for Healthcare Providers & Facilities:


To reiterate and reinforce, we recommend:

  • Support individual(s) in their own room (remove roommates) unless both are positive for COVID-19.
  • Contact appropriate medical personnel (primary care doctor) by phone for direction. Do not take individuals to the ER, hospital or doctor's office. Wait for direction from a physician.
  • Only consider relocation of individuals with positive COVID-19 diagnosis to another residence if those individuals are also COVID-19 positive.
  • Do not relocate exposed, but currently undiagnosed roommates, to a new living environment as they may carry COVID-19.

Regulatory Guidance

Regulatory requirements that are amended will remain consistent with those of other service changes. At this time, the below regulatory guidance will remain in effect through April 16, 2020. DMH will issue further guidance if these dates changes.

BALC Surveys

  • All in-person and on-site regulatory surveys will be suspended.
  • Current certificates will be extended through this period.

Office of the Inspector General (OIG)

  • *All instances of Abuse & Neglect must continue to be reported to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) within the 4 hour timeframe. All Abuse & Neglect protocols remain in effect.

Individual Rights

  • During this time, we recognize that certain individual rights may need to be suspended in order to meet the emergency health and safety needs of the individual, and do not need to be reflected in the Personal Plan. These include:
  • Allowing visitors.
  • Right to choose who to share a bedroom with.

Thank you for all you are doing to keep people safe during these unprecedented times. Again, we're here to help.


David Albert, PhD

Director, Division of Mental Health