SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — San Diego home providers, caring for clients or a loved one, are feeling forgotten and left on their own to find personal protective equipment.
The United Domestic Workers of America (UDW) fought for weeks to get personal protective equipment for home care providers. Workers said they are critical in helping to protect the most vulnerable to the coronavirus.
Home care providers known as In-Home Supportive Service (IHSS) workers were left weeks without personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves.
“We are front-line providers that were not thought about,” said IHSS worker Mary Courtney Sheldon.
She’s been a home care provider for years, and said many clients are elderly and disabled with long-term health needs, low-income, and on Medical.
“It’s scary. It’s a lot more dangerous for clients. We know that many of them would not survive this,” said Sheldon.
Both of her sons are medically fragile, and she didn’t want to risk exposing her children or clients to the coronavirus. She said many IHSS workers have had to network to get supplies.
“We have come out of pocket and been very creative to find disinfectant, and gloves, and masks,” said Sheldon.
Meanwhile, the union representing the IHSS workers, UDW, were fighting the county for a share of the personal protective equipment.
“They are invisible heroes because no one sees them,” said Doug Moore, UDW Executive Director. “They see the doctors, they see the nurses, they see the first responders but they don’t see the home care provider.”
The County of San Diego said it does not employ IHSS workers and is managed by the state. A spokesperson for the county said it has never provided personal protective equipment for IHSS workers.
However, Moore said the county provided 30,000 gloves and 30,000 masks.
Once that ran out, the county provided one-third of its supply to help the near 28,000 IHSS workers in San Diego County caring for nearly 31,000 clients or loved ones.
Moore said UDW had to buy 4,000, 4-ounce bottles of hand sanitizer. They even broke the 4-ounces down to 2-ounces. They’ve made calls to 70,000 of its workers in the state as well.
“Trying to be the glue and supplies and offer assurance,” said Moore.
He said many workers fear going into homes not knowing who has been there.
Clients also do not want anyone in their home to prevent exposure.
IHSS are also fighting for higher wages and relief during this time.
If you are a home care provider and need PPE’s, call UDW at (800) 621-5016 to schedule an appointment to pick up a two-week supply of personal protective equipment.
You don’t have to be a UDW member.