A Pedacito Of My Mom: A Healthcare Worker During COVID-19
Updated: Jun 19
Ever since I was little, my mom has always been the best caregiver. Whether I was home from school with the flu as a kindergartner or was away at college and missed a home-cooked meal, my mom was there to take care of me. I knew that her empathy extended far beyond just her love for me as a daughter, it touched everyone around her.
When my Abuelita fell ill in 2017, my mom quit her job as an English tutor for native Spanish speakers to become her full-time caretaker. She traveled to Brooklyn Monday through Friday to ensure that my grandmother had someone to help her do daily tasks aside from my grandfather- working closely with a healthcare agency at the same time.
After my grandmother recovered from surgery, my mom's services were no longer needed, leaving her with the option to go back to her previous career or pursue healthcare further.
She enjoyed taking care of my grandmother and felt that she could touch the lives of others that weren't family. So, she stayed connected with the agency that employed her for my grandmother and found a career as a Care Manager at a Senior Living Facility after becoming a CNA.
Almost 3 years into her career as a CNA, my mom was faced with the ultimate challenge that all healthcare workers were put up against last year, COVID-19. With working in a facility that only cares for the elderly during a pandemic, it became abundantly clear that COVID-19 was going to be the hardest battle of my mom's career in healthcare.
Every day she was COVID tested, wearing protective gear from the moment she stepped into the facility until she went home. She had to watch some of her residents battle with COVID-19, and some even tragically passed away.
It was an extremely difficult year for all of us, but especially for those in the healthcare field. It becomes mentally and physically exhausting to be faced with such adversity with no solution in sight.
"Some days felt so hopeless. I felt so scared for my residents, myself, and my family. I would come home and immediately remove my shoes outside and jacket, then rush to the shower before getting close to anyone. I feared that this pandemic would never end."
- Claudia Lipari, Melissa's Mom
As the pandemic raged on, my mom found ways to make her residents feel more at peace inside the living facility. With no connection to their family due to COVID restrictions, my mom started taking extra steps to bond with her residents.
She would take her residents to the "spa" and paint their nails on her lunch breaks. My mom would text the families of her residents and send them pictures throughout the day of them doing activities. It put a smile on everyone's faces during a very bleak time in history.
While the pandemic is not over yet, the roll-out of vaccinations has helped to slow the spread. Families are now allowed to visit the residents and days seem brighter at my mom's workplace. She comes home with a sense of hope in her eyes that I haven't seen in over a year.
Some photos inside of the Senior Living Facility.
Today is observed as Healthcare Worker and Doctor Appreciation Day in many countries, which is why I feel the need to share my mom's story. This appreciation day began in India but has been recognized globally amidst the pandemic. We understand now more than ever how important our healthcare workers are. They are heroes in the purest sense.
No matter what field a healthcare worker is in, a brain surgeon or hospice nurse, everyone deserves recognition on July 1st for putting their lives on the line. I am so proud of my mom for taking her gift and transforming it into a career. Especially during a time where the world needed it the most.
My mom's heart has always been her best attribute, and I know this can be said for every healthcare worker who tirelessly tried to help those in need during COVID-19. If you know a healthcare worker, give them some appreciation today. Their work is strenuous and heart-breaking at times, but they still walk into their facility with a smile on their face.
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