Front-line workers adjust to restrictions to serve clients

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Person Centered Services Inc. is a disability services and support organization and a department of the Valley Mountain Regional Center based in Stockton California. In the second episode of the Cost of COVID-19 I interviewed Leading worker Antonia “Toni” Hernandez shared and got her perspective on the impact of the pandemic on her and her fellow workers in their hands- on company.

Before the virus hit PCS’ services entailed of in in-person visits with their clients. However, when the virus escalated and was officially declared a pandemic PCS had to majorly rework their program and adhere to a series of strict new guidelines because health and safety is the top priority before providing services.

These guidelines included that if staff is in the presence of another person both must wear a mask. Before entering all staff and visitors/consumers will need to answer if they are sick, been around someone that is sick/exposed to COVID. If they answer is yes to any of the questions, it’s an immediate stop the interview, with entry being declined and a supervisor being called immediately. If not, staff will take their own temperatures before entering the building/consumers as well, all staff must maintain six or more feet apart, and wear a mask.

These changes took a toll on PCS’ business and clients. Toni explained that the pandemic impacted the consumers’ daily activities and overall well-being because isolation and depression were a major concern as the PCS social living services staff were the only social interaction for a long time.

As the pandemic raged on, PCS managed to find a better system of being safe while working with their clients. Hernandez explained to me what kept everyone going was the genuine love for the work they do.

Hernandez also said there were so many moments where she felt proud of staff and consumers by being mindful and following all of the guidelines, as well as going above and beyond with consumers. PCS staff, delivered personal hygiene products, food, and general aid for those in need, she said.

Hernandez’s tips to anyone during the pandemic are to follow the advice of the CDC, Public Health guidelines, wear a mask, stay six feet apart, and get the vaccine. Both Toni and I have faith that if we all do our part and help to stop the pandemic, we will eventually return to some sort of normalcy.