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Home health care workers also facing challenges during coronavirus

Home health care workers are frontline workers, too. Their frontline is in the homes of patients even during the coronavirus outbreak.

PERRYSBURG, Ohio — Frontline workers continue to put in hours caring for those affected by the coronavirus.

For home health care workers, the frontline has been going into patients homes and they haven't stopped.

"It wasn't business as usual for sure," Friends of the Family Home Health Care marketing manager, Sheri LaFontaine, said.

Home health care workers are some of the lesser-seen heroes during this pandemic. They continued to offer care throughout the stay-at-home order but have ran into problems.

"We had an absolute halt, first off, in getting supplies that we needed desperately," LaFontaine said. "Gloves and masks, we were only able to order one box a week and we have over 150 employees."

She said she personally drove from store to store to find masks and supplies. Other agencies faced similar challenges.

"I think most of the challenges were the unknowns and the constant changes that were going on," Ohioans Home Healthcare nurse, Kate Gillespie, said. "So we really wanted to make sure that our nurses felt comfortable and our patients felt comfortable as well."

Gillespie leads the COVID-19 nurse task force at Ohioans Home Healthcare. They invested in reusable N-95 masks and other supplies. She said the biggest concerns patients have are what they are doing to protect them.

"We created a COVID RN team so the COVID RNs were only seeing COVID positive patients," she said. "That kind of helped protect our current patients that were not positive."

Officials believe the coronavirus has changed how care will be carried out forever.

"We want to put the precautions in place to protect them from things that we don't even know are coming yet," LaFontaine said.

And LaFontaine couldn't overstate how much these workers risked.

"When they say that they're heroes that's exactly what they are, they don't wear capes, they're in scrubs," she said. "They were willing to go in and take care of their clients at all costs."

As things reopen and family members return to work, that need is growing once again. 

And they said they will rise to meet it.

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