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How One Home Care Worker Is Living Through the COVID-19 Crisis

By Arielle Altman | April 7, 2020

Ricardo Araujo is a Home Health Aide at Cooperative Home Care Associates (CHCA) in the Bronx, NY. He has been a direct care worker for three years, and we recently reached out to him to hear how he’s been doing during the COVID-19 crisis, which has hit New York especially hard.

How is COVID-19 impacting you and your ability to provide care during the pandemic?

“My job remains the same, but I worry every day about getting infected [with COVID-19], and especially about bringing the virus into my client’s home. What has changed is that I now take extra precautions as soon as I step outside my house, when I’m on the subway and when I’m in my client’s home. He is a very nice older man who lives with his wife. If they’re worried about catching anything from me, they don’t talk about it, at least not with me. Regardless, I wouldn’t want anyone bringing a virus into my home with my family, so I do everything I can to prevent myself from doing that to them.

Outside of work, being separated from my wife, son, and daughter during this time has been really hard. They are in the Dominican Republic, and right now with the airports shut down, I can’t go see them. I don’t know when I will see them next. But hopefully we can better manage the virus in a couple months and life can go back to normal.”

How are you responding to the heightened risks of infection?

“I am taking all the precautions I can, like wearing a mask and gloves when I go into the train station. When I step off the train, I take the gloves off and clean my hands with hand sanitizer. When I get to either my house or the client’s house, I wash my hands properly for 30 seconds with liquid soap. That’s basically all I can do.

Right now, I always have a little bottle of hand sanitizer with me, but every time I go to the pharmacies to find more, there is no hand sanitizer left anywhere. I know the stores are out of gloves and masks, too. So I’m careful with how much I use because I don’t know what I’m going to do whenever I run out.”

From right to left: Ricardo Araujo, a Home Health Aide at Cooperative Home Care Associates in the Bronx, NY; and José Ramon Nuñez in the Bronx. Nuñez passed away on January 4, 2020, and is remembered fondly by his family. (Photo by Kristen Blush.)

In addition to personal protective equipment, are there other types of support you need?

“My organization is providing regular reminders about infection prevention, but I still wish I knew more about what I can do to make sure I’m not spreading the virus. I live with my sister and my nephews. They are staying home now while I have to leave for work, and I’m scared to bring anything home from the streets that could harm them. Even if I wash my hands all the time, what about the clothes I’m wearing? What about my coat? I’m still touching my uniform and getting stuff out of my pockets during the day. I wish I knew more about those things. But the only thing that I can do is try my best to be safe out there.”

To learn more about Ricardo and his passion for providing care, click here.

To help provide immediate financial support during the pandemic to CHCA home care workers like Ricardo, please consider making a tax deductible donation here.

 

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