COVID-19, and Hillside’s Commitment to Our Community

At Hillside, our dedicated and talented teams provide individualized services and support to more than 14,000 children, adults and families every year. We understand that because each person’s challenges are unique, the same is true for their pathways to healing.

But right now, a common danger is uniting the communities we serve, our country and the world. The novel coronavirus disease, or COVID-19, is spreading with alarming speed and requiring everyone—young and old, urban and rural, living in poverty and affluence—to take strong and immediate precautions in the name of personal and public safety.

Hillside’s people have rallied together in the face of this unprecedented outbreak. We’re working round-the-clock to refine our existing pandemic prevention plan and ensure that the children and families who rely on our services can remain healthy and safe. And we’re equally committed to our staff, who must balance their dedication to Hillside’s mission with the need to care for themselves and their own families. That’s a particular challenge, in the face of school and business closings that make child care and other issues a vital concern.

This evolving crisis is asking much of all of us—and for the good of our communities and each other, we must rise to the challenge. Hillside supports the protocols of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and we encourage everyone to follow their simple advisories that will help slow the spread of COVID-19.

On behalf of the entire Hillside family, please do all you can to protect yourselves—and in so doing, protect each other. Now more than ever, we are one community. We will get through this together.

Maria Cristalli
President and CEO
Hillside Family of Agencies

Nurses Make a Difference — Today and Every Day

An open letter to Hillside’s nurses from Ann Cott, Hillside’s Executive Director of Health Care Services: It’s National Nurses Day and the start of National Nurses Month! The theme this year is You Make a Difference. The global COVID-19 pandemic makes it even more important this year that we support and recognize all of our nurses who work with courage and compassion and under extremely challenging circumstances. Whether it is a national health emergency or routine daily care, nurses’ vital contributions impact the health and well-being of our communities, which is why the American Nurses Association selected the theme for…

Read More

Hillside Encourages Participation in 2020 Census

The COVID-19 pandemic is bringing additional complications to the lives of already vulnerable families coping with the challenges of trauma, poverty and neglect. To many of these families, keeping up with the mail at this time might be the last thing on their minds—but the 2020 United States Census is no ordinary piece of mail. It’s an important tool that can help ensure that publicly funded resources are allocated to those who may need them most. Hillside encourages families throughout the regions we serve, and everywhere, to take the few minutes necessary to complete and submit an accurate Census form…

Read More

Community Service Takes New Forms During COVID-19

How can community service requirements be completed when the community itself is shut down? In the wake of COVID-19, Hillside’s Mary Jo Acomb and her team have found a way to help young people solve that problem while participating in the Livingston County-based Community Service program. With shelter-in-place orders now the norm throughout the nation, a new initiative is allowing youth who are involved in their local Family Court or probation systems to fulfill community-service requirements while building self-esteem and accepting responsibility for their actions. Youth can now receive credit toward community service by doing work consistent with COVID-related safety…

Read More

HW-SC: Inspiring Excellence

At 9:00pm on a recent Wednesday, Shekena Dallis answered a phone call from a student she mentors as a Youth Advocate (YA) in the Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection program. A call so late on a school night was unusual, and Dallis worried it might be bad news—but the exact opposite was true. The excited student had earned a 4.2 grade point average for her recently completed third quarter at Suitland High School in Prince George’s County, MD. She was calling to thank the YA for Dallis’ tireless support, including offering plenty of encouragement whenever the student had felt overwhelmed. She told…

Read More

The Art of Caring: Connecting with Comics

Hillside Community-Based Treatment Provider Nicole Bielowicz struck upon a novel way to help one very creative youth see the COVID-19 pandemic through a different lens. After sharing his stress and anxiety about the crisis, Nicole asked her youth if he’d tried drawing his feelings out as they have routinely done. When he responded that he didn’t know how to express his feelings about coronavirus, Nicole had her ah-ha moment! As art activities have been one coping skill the youth regularly uses when he becomes upset, Nicole proposed creating a comic book together to help him through these challenging and uncertain…

Read More

Expanded Technology Solutions Connect Staff and Youth During COVID-19 Crisis

With remote work suddenly becoming the new normal for many Hillside teams during the COVID-19 pandemic, technology tools are rising to the challenge. In one example, Hillside has dramatically expanded the availability of TeleCare resources that make it possible for staff to meet virtually with youth and families using encrypted videoconferencing. Earlier this week, 236 Hillside staff participated in a live virtual training session provided by Hillside’s Technology team—and our people immediately put this new tool into action. Literally one hour after completing her training, Hillside staff used TeleCare to admit a youth into Hillside’s Family Crisis Support Services program…

Read More

COVID-19: Mask Donations Show Support for Hillside Nurses

Hillside teams are rallying around our youth and families during the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis, and support from the community makes their work possible. This week, nurses in Hillside’s health office at the Finger Lakes Campus in Auburn were encouraged by a donation from Cheryl Heller, owner of The Savvy She Shed in Baldwinsville, NY. Heller offered hand-sewn protective masks that the clinical team could use while working with youth, in compliance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention safety protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic. Youth on the Finger Lakes campus are pitching in as well, working with staff to make…

Read More

COVID-19: Reports of Contact Involving Hillside’s Crestwood Campus

Hillside has learned of a potential COVID-19 exposure that may have occurred during the week of March 9 involving the community at our Crestwood Campus school on Scottsville Road in Rochester. We are concerned about any possible exposure to our staff and students, and we have been in contact with the Monroe County Department of Health to make sure we have all available information. We are in the process of notifying Crestwood staff and families and encouraging them to report any symptoms to their primary care providers or the Monroe County Department of Health’s COVID-19 hotline. The Crestwood Campus school…

Read More

COVID-19: Visitation Restrictions Updated

Given the public health risks associated with the COVID-19 outbreak, Hillside has strengthened its previously revised policies regarding visitors to youth, effective immediately: All visitation is suspended at all Hillside sites except when medically or clinically necessary, i.e., the visitor is essential to the care of the resident. Additionally, any visitors to any Hillside site for agency business must have prior authorization and comply with screening protocols established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the NYS Department of Health. This policy remains subject to change as the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve.

Read More