By Harriet Schiftan, MSW, MAJCS President and CEO
I’m excited to share that we have a plan for returning to in-person cancer support. Despite the success of our virtual support offerings over the last 15 months – and our intention to continue providing virtual support over the long-term – this is the moment we’ve all been waiting for. And we are excited!
As you know, Gilda’s Club has always been focused on health and safety practices that allow us to create an environment that is as safe and germ free as possible and, as we reopen our clubhouse, we will continue to do so. We also recognize that you – our members – know best what is right for you and how to manage and assess health risks associated with your daily activities, like coming to Gilda’s Club. We trust you to make the best decisions for your own health, needs, and situation; we invite you to please be with us in-person when it feels right and to participate virtually otherwise.
To support good decision making, we offer this FAQ. A sincere thanks to the members of our Board, Medical Resource Council, and staff who helped prepare it…
What is the plan for reopening the clubhouse?
Our intention is to begin welcoming members back to the clubhouse mid-July. We will reopen by inviting groups, beginning with healthy lifestyle and expressive arts classes, one at a time, to allow us to make our reopening as safe and well-planned as possible. We will also be limiting the number of participants in each class to allow for social distancing.
Our Program Team feels it’s important to practice and refine how Gilda’s Club operates in this new normal, before throwing the doors wide open. The things we learn during what we’re calling our “soft reopening” will allow us to reopen fully – when the time is right – in the best way possible.
We will continue to offer Gilda’s Club activities virtually. Activities being offered in-person will still be available via Zoom, too, so you can participate in the way that feels best for your unique situation. We will expand our in-person offerings over time, as it makes sense; the safety of our members remains our priority.
Our ultimate goal is to provide everyone who is part of Gilda’s Club resumed access to the in-person connections and community support that is our mission.
What protocols will be in place as you reopen?
- Access to the clubhouse will be limited to those with an appointment or reservation.
- All members, volunteers, and staff will be required to wear a mask when inside the clubhouse.
- Class sizes will be limited to allow for social distancing.
- There will be limited access to common areas, such as the Resource Library and Community Kitchen, to allow for ample distancing.
- Hand sanitizer will be available throughout the clubhouse.
- All high traffic areas will be sanitized regularly, as has always been our practice.
- As always, we ask that anyone who is not feeling well for any reason stay home for the safety of our members.
In addition, our air filtration system was upgraded this year to filter out 98% of pathogens, including Covid.
Will Gilda’s Club staff be required to be fully vaccinated?
The entire Gilda’s Club team is fully vaccinated. This was not required, but it was encouraged so we could protect ourselves and others to the best of our ability.
Will members and facilitators/volunteers participating in-person be required to be fully vaccinated?
We will not require members and volunteers to be fully vaccinated, as many of those we serve aren’t able to receive the vaccine or have received it only to find it ineffective because of an existing medical condition. We do, however, encourage everyone who can safely get the vaccine to do so.
Will kids and teens be allowed to participate in-person?
We are planning several in-person, outdoor activities over the summer, so please keep your eyes and ears open for details from our Program Team. We will continue to offer virtual programs for kids and teen.
Will Zoom continue to be an option even when the clubhouse opens?
Yes, thanks to a grant from The Frist Foundation, a new, state-of-the-art technology system will allow us to offer hybrid Program activities over the long-term. We are excited to explore the possibilities and grateful for the ways in which this new technology will allow us to increase (and improve) access to our free cancer support program.
How will I learn about updates in the re-opening?
We will post updates regularly on our website, social media, and on our weekly calendar.
Thank you for your patience and feedback as we navigate this long-anticipated return to the Clubhouse together.