Caring for others during COVID-19

Published 9:40 pm Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Home health care workers adjust to pandemic


While much has changed during and due to the COVID-19 pandemic, what hasn’t changed is people utilizing home health care still needing those services.

Embrace Home Care in Albert Lea has had to quickly adjust and continues to do so as it closely follows CDC guidelines and updates, according to HR manager Ashley Madrigal.

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Madrigal said the company — which works a lot with Freeborn County and its Public Health department, as well as with St. Marys Hospital in Rochester — has had to continuously update its policies and procedures in order to make sure its employees and clients stay safe.

The service has been in need of masks, and volunteers have stepped up to provide them, with one volunteer from Illinois even sending masks to benefit the Albert Lea service.

“We’ve had to come up with other resources,” Madrigal said. “We’re very lucky to have volunteers make us some.”

Madrigal said Embrace has also been closely watching its supply of gloves. She said that in addition to masks, gloves are in high demand now, and she can only call every 30 days in order to receive two cases for a total of 24 boxes a month. She said the service, which is always in close contact with its employees, has had to let its care providers know gloves are in short supply. She said Embrace tells its employees to glove up like they usually do — but during a viral pandemic, it would ideally be encouraging employees to glove up even more, and it can’t.

Embrace Home Care has had a number of volunteers donate masks to its home health care workers. – Provided

“Our main priority is to make sure employees are safe and protected,” Madrigal said.

For many clients, home health care workers are the only people they have contact with during social distancing guidelines and stay-at-home orders. For some clients, that’s the case all the time, pandemic or not.

In the event that Embrace would have to re-evaluate how many clients it meets with due to CDC guidelines or other safety requirements during the pandemic, the ones who can’t get out of bed themselves or don’t have family nearby for backup are the ones who would take priority — if it ever had to come to that, Madrigal said. She hopes it doesn’t.

“We’re in this field to support those individuals,” she said. “It would be hard.”

As the coronavirus crisis started to unfold, Madrigal said Embrace sent a letter to clients reminding them to wash their hands and follow CDC guidelines. While she said they can’t mandate clients not allow visitors into their own homes, she said Embrace encouraged clients to follow social distancing guidelines to protect home health care workers.

Madrigal encouraged everyone in the community to do the same.

“Right now we need to keep everyone safe,” she said.


About Colleen Harrison

Colleen Harrison is the photo editor at the Albert Lea Tribune. She does photography and writes general-assignment stories.

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