As COVID-19 cases increase every day, healthcare workers are risking their lives to help those who test positive for the virus. I have been one of the individuals working in the healthcare industry throughout the pandemic.
In addition to being a full-time journalism student and pursuing a minor in Africology and African American studies, I’ve worked as a caregiver at Keystone Villa at Douglassville nursing home for about five years.
I was extremely nervous and concerned when I first heard about the pandemic, and I was wondering what precautions my job was going to take. My job as a caregiver is to clothe, bathe, assist with toileting and help feed residents who live there.
My job first gave out masks for all the staff to wear when the pandemic broke out. We were told to wear them the whole time as we worked our full shifts and to make sure we were washing our hands and wiping down all the equipment and carts for our linens.
After confirming positive cases of COVID-19 from some residents and staff members, we then had to take extreme precautions and started to wear personal protective equipment every time we were doing the residents’ care. Wearing the equipment was a challenge for me because I would sweat a lot and have trouble breathing through the mask. Throughout my shift, I had to sit down and take breaks because of that.
My job was in lockdown for basically the whole summer. For the most part, residents had to be quarantined in their rooms and were not allowed to come out. There was absolutely no visitation allowed, and when we came to clock in, we had to get our temperatures checked and answer a few questions about whether we ever traveled recently or been around anyone that had COVID-19.
I was worried working around residents who tested positive because of the possibility that I would catch COVID-19 and bring it home to my family. Some of my family members have asthma, so I tried to distance myself from them in order to keep them safe. As soon as I would come home, I immediately took off my work uniform and showered as a precaution.
I didn’t visit family or friends as much this summer because my job had positive cases and I didn’t want to take the chance of possibly bringing it around them. It was very hard not being able to see them as much.
Keystone Villa has also given out hero bonuses, or extra pay given to caregiving staff for working throughout COVID-19, and I was very appreciative of that. I feel that caregivers deserve hero bonuses because we are risking our lives everyday being around COVID-19. Because many people have lost their jobs during this pandemic, I am grateful to still be working.
Keystone Villa does not have any positive cases as of now. I am still working hard at my job while going to college full-time and taking safety precautions so I don’t catch COVID-19. I always carry hand sanitizer and wear a mask when I travel from college to work.
I have found caregiving to be an extremely stressful and exhausting job. Despite management efforts, my coworkers and I do not feel appreciated which I believe is an overall healthcare industry issue. I hope and pray for a change in the near future.