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Coachella Valley home health care aides remain on front lines caring for seniors

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When entering homes for the first time, home care aides with Home Instead in Palm Desert are being told to wash their hands.  

They’re being told to do the same when they leave.

When they pick up their paychecks, they’re also picking up gloves to wear when serving seniors.

“Some of them are afraid.  You know they are afraid because they don’t want to catch this.  So most of them are not going anywhere,” said aide Arlene Coronado while talking about her clients. 

Coronado is one out of about 170 aides who work out of the office, supporting clients across the valley.  The agency and others like it help seniors with things like laundry, errands, housekeeping, medication reminders, meal preparation and bathing assistance.

“They were here to take care of us.  Why not help them?  That’s my attitude.  I enjoy it,” said Coronado. 

The franchisee for the Palm Desert business, Rob Costello, tells us the office is being “extra vigilant” and says two of his employees have been tested for coronavirus, but both cases came back negative. 

Costello also tells us he has not been informed that any of their clients have tested positive.

Liz Mahan manages schedules for the home care aides.

“As they are moving from house to house we want to make sure that everyone is safe,” said Mahan. 

The agency also tells us that aides are being told to stay home if they think they might be sick or are around anyone else who is.

Right now business is “steady” according to Costello.

But, he believes there is “much greater demand” locally and is afraid some seniors who might need help are not calling for service out of fear of getting sick from person to person contact.

Under normal conditions, home care aides from Home Instead might see up to 4 clients a day.  

But with the coronavirus pandemic they are trying to limit visits to two.

Costello says they do have necessary supplies like masks and disinfectants “where and when they are needed”, but says supplies are running low and they’re having trouble ordering more. 

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Tom Tucker

Tom Tucker is a veteran broadcast journalist with nearly 20 years of experience. Learn more about Tom here.

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