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The Waiting Game

Patrick* had been running a fever for two weeks but it wasn’t until Laura*, a residence manager, went to bring him an apple to snack on, that she noticed something was not right. Patrick’s doctors had prescribed him over the counter medication to help him break his fever, but it only helped in managing it.

It was not until a fateful Tuesday afternoon, that Laura saw there was truly something wrong as she handed Patrick his snack and noticed his eyelids had become so puffy, they were obstructing his ability to see.

It was then, the tumultuous journey to get Patrick medical attention began. Following the directions provided to her, Laura along with Jaina*, the direct support professional that works with Patrick, took him to the nearest urgent care but was turned away because they did not accept their insurance.

Thinking quickly, Jaina was able to find and bring Patrick to the nearest urgent care that did accept their insurance. But the news wasn’t good. In addition to the fever he had been unable to shake, Patrick’s oxygen levels were low, and he seemed to be exhibiting symptoms of the novel coronavirus.

An ambulance was called and rushed to take Patrick to the emergency room. However, despite Jaina’s insistence, for safety precautions, he had to go alone. “She told me they wouldn’t let her go with them, which I could understand for safety reasons: said Laura, “ but we were prepared. We had an emergency COVID-19 Packet that we gave to the EMTs so they had all of Patrick’s medical and my contact information.

It was then the waiting game. Nearly a day and a half later, they still had not been contacted from the hospital. Laura spent her day calling the hospital after hospital trying to find Patrick to no avail. Then she was contacted by NY’s Emergency Medical Service hotline, which tracks every ambulance pick up and hospital admission, “Once I received that call, my eyes just filled with tears,” Laura said, “They were tears of sadness and tears of joy. Sadness that he was in there, but a joy that we had found him at last.”

Patrick’s condition had declined. Due to his symptoms, he was admitted to the COVID unit of the hospital – being placed on a ventilator, and doctors have started him on antibiotics.

“The doctor who is on Patrick’s case is amazing! He is the true meaning of compassion. But being in that unit, it’s very difficult to get updates but I keep trying.”

Things in the residences have also been difficult. With one individual testing positive with the coronavirus, Laura and her staff, also must maintain a close eye on both residents and staff alike.

“Everyone is in quarantine. But the tension and anxiety levels are so high right now,” she said. “When you hear someone cough, everyone gets just a little nervous.”

However, with all that is going on, Laura remains hopeful. Giving praise to her staff and all they’ve done including working double shifts to covering for sick colleagues, and not shying away from potentially exposed residents, Laura finds ways to try to keep everyone’s spirits lifted such as hosting a small, socially distance BBQ for staff and individuals in the enclosed backyard of their residence.

But Laura understands, they are not in clear just yet.

*Names have been changed for privacy.


A recent study published in the New York Times shows that residents of group homes in New York City are 5.34 times more likely than the general population to develop COVID-19 and 4.86 times more likely to suffer serious consequences. Please consider making a donation to support Mercy Home and our COVID-19 relief efforts.

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