Door Hangers for COVID-19 Prevention

This spring, approximately 20,000 door hangers were distributed throughout central Massachusetts, with information in English and Spanish on COVID-19 prevention and symptoms, as part of a public health initiative funded by the Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts (HFCM).

RCAP Solutions had recently been awarded a five-year Synergy Grant from HFCM, which was just getting off the ground with a focus on private well health in the north central MA area. When COVID-19 hit, the HFCM board reached to identify additional ways they could help with the pandemic response. As a result, supplemental funding of $8,000 was provided to RCAP Solutions to help mitigate the impact of the current coronavirus public health crisis. The funds were intended to enable RCAP to provide communications support to local boards of health in the project’s service area and help strengthen relationships with BOH’s and facilitate the project moving forward with private well testing and regulation in the future.

With a goal of education, RCAP Solutions and north central Boards of Health quickly identified communications to elderly residents through a door hanger to be the best tool to promote public health and safety throughout the community. RCAP partnered with The Wachusett Medical Reserve Corps (WMRC), a local network of public health, medical, safety and other ancillary volunteers organized to improve the health and safety of their communities, who helped to identify what information would be most useful and coordinated the door hanger distribution. A team of roughly 10 volunteers crisscrossed the state from Winchendon to Webster, delivering the hangers to boards of health and housing authorities, schools and summer meal programs, libraries, take out restaurants, community and senior centers, police stations, and homeless shelters. The hangers were also provided to RCAP’s ten senior, disabled and family properties.

“This fits in with our mission to build safe, healthy and prepared communities,” stated Judie O’Donnell, RN MPH, WMRC Director. “I’m a firm believer in public education and promoting good health practices. Information about health has to be simplified and for many it’s not easy to understand. We’re trying to combat health illiteracy, it’s so important to get the word out to as many people as possible. There are so many who have language barriers, it’s important to have images that help to show the message. Door hangers work because people get nervous in difficult situations and this is a quick and creative way for people to know what to do in an emergency. There is a lot of misinformation out there. People need to know when to call 911, and not wait until it’s too late.”

The response to the door hangers has been very positive. “Resident coordinators and property managers were very receptive and were happy to have something to hand out,” said O’Donnell. “Residents were very appreciative and liked that it’s something they can leave on the door and have as a daily reminder.”

 

Beer Waste Information from MassDEP

Notice to Local Boards of Health, Restaurants, and other Hospitality Associations about Beer Waste

The closure of restaurants, bars, and other venues due to the COVID-19 outbreak has resulted in an abundance of beer and other food waste going stale in these establishments. Beer, in particular, has a very high Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD), making it what is referred to as “high strength wastewater”, which also has a very low pH. The combination of the beer’s high BOD and low pH, make disposing of stale beer in the sewer system extremely problematic, with the potential to cause damaging conditions within the sewer system and to potentially overwhelm the receiving wastewater treatment plant. Given the current volumes of stale beer and other food waste across the Commonwealth, it is imperative that it is disposed of properly. MassDEP and MWRA recommend:

  1. Stale beer and other food waste should not be disposed of down the drain.
  2. Restaurants, bars, and other venues should work with distributor to collect full and partially full kegs.
  3. Through MassDEP or RecyclingWorks, distributors and other venues can explore options for disposal at anaerobic digestion facilities. More information can be found here. For assistance, contact RecyclingWorks at 888-254-5525 or email info@recyclingworksma.com.

ERMA – Funding for Households Impacted by Coronavirus Crisis

 

RCAP Solutions is pleased to offer new financial assistance programs for Worcester County families impacted by the recent Covid-19 pandemic and state of emergency. The Emergency Rental and Mortgage Assistance (ERMA) program funded by the Massachusetts Department of Housing & Community Development provides up to $4,000 of direct funding to eligible households.

ERMA can help to fund payments with rent or mortgage arrears accrued no earlier than April 1, 2020 or upcoming rent or mortgage payments.

In order to be eligible for ERMA, a household must:

  • currently rent or own housing as a primary residence in Massachusetts
  • have a gross household income that is between the 50% and 80% Area Median Income (AMI)
  • have a housing emergency due to a financial hardship related to or exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis

Please click here for our flyer: ERMA_Flyer

Please click here for our press release: ERMA Press Release

Households can assess their eligibility by looking at the income levels for Worcester County, found here: Income limits listing.

Questions & How to Apply:

Please note, the office is closed to the public at this time and visits are by appointment only.

RCAP Network Survey Shows Impact of COVID-19 on Rural Water and Wastewater Systems

Our national affiliate, The Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP), recently released a survey that shows the major impacts of COVID-19 on small and rural systems. The survey received more than 1,100 unique responses from systems in 49 states and Puerto Rico.

The staggering data revealed that under current conditions, 31% of systems cannot sustain current financial losses for more than 6 months. In addition, more than 43% of systems surveyed said they rely on one full-time operator or less to operate their system (many rely on part-time staff, operators or volunteers), and many respondents indicated a concern over the health of their operators in the maintenance of the system. To view the full survey findings, click here.

RCAP also released state-specific data that can be shared with policymakers in each state to advocate for the continued need of future COVID-19 response funding for small water and wastewater systems. Below are the one-pagers for our service areas. More states will continue to be added.

RCAP Network COVID-19 Survey Reveals Small Water and Wastewater Systems’ Financial Outlooks