Dr. Theresa Hamlin profile

As much of the world begins to open up, and new coronavirus hot spots start to emerge, there is sobering news for the complex community we care for here at The Center for Discovery.

A new study released by researchers at Syracuse University and Upstate Medical University shows that those with developmental disabilities, such as autism, are at a much higher risk of contracting fatal cases of COVID-19. After examining 30,000 cases, they found that those with complex conditions were four times as likely to contract the virus and twice as likely to die from it.

During Thursday’s TCFD webinar, Dr. Theresa Hamlin, TCFD’s Associate Executive Director, pointed to this new study and its indication that The Center should remain vigilant in terms of social distancing, and adhering to strict guidelines in the use of personal protective equipment and cleaning. TCFD has created an equally stringent policy for family visitation, which was formulated and reviewed by our medical experts and will begin this month.

Dr. Hamlin’s first guest for her webinar was Dr. Charlies Schleien, the Senior Vice President and the Chair of Pediatric Services at Northwell Health, and the Cohen’s Children’s Medical Center. He is also a Chair and Professor of Pediatrics at the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell. Dr. Schleien described the new syndrome that has arisen from COVID-19, “MIS-C” or multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children. “It looks to be a post-infectious, almost hyper-immune, hyper-inflammatory syndrome that is not contagious,” he said, “these kids do not have active COVID for the most part at the time they present, but they all have antibodies.”

Dr. Schleien said most children are treated successfully with a protocol used for Kawasaki disease: IVIG/immune therapy, high dose aspirin, and sometimes steroids. All parents, but especially parents of children with complex conditions, should be aware of any presenting symptoms. This includes gastrointestinal symptoms, like diarrhea, rashes, swollen lymph nodes, conjunctivitis, swollen and cracked lips, hands and feet, blue tint to fingers or toes, irritability, and lethargy.

Dr. Hamlin also spoke with Amanda Ward, Chief of People Operations, and a Justice in the Town of Fallsburg. Together, they reviewed The Center’s many dimensions of support for staff members. Amanda described it as a “rapid response system to educate, train, and empower” every member of the TCFD family. “I think the Center has done an incredible job in wrapping their arms around the staff in recognizing there are additional pressures and constraints during these times. We’ve really stepped up to the plate for our staff, and we’ve heard their appreciation,”  Amanda said. Dr. Hamlin echoed Amanda’s sentiment, “The Center has come together as never before. Some places fall apart, and others come together to face challenges. That’s the heart of The Center. We not only meet expectations but exceed them.”

To watch all of the interviews, please go to