TOLEDO, Ohio — The COVID-19 pandemic has forced community programs to continue to serve those in need, in creative ways.
Sandi Olson is a Home Visitor with Mercy Health's Help Me Grow Home Visitation Program. She was there when now two-year-old Mylena took her first steps and she's been there to visit and support her every week since.
"It's just so good to actually have somebody who's like, knows. I know about kids, but not about the development. It's so good to know I have somebody in my corner who's helping me out," said Ciara Payne, mom to Mylena and client of the Mercy Health Help me Grow Home Visitation Program.
Payne is a first time mom and a self-described "worry wart." She said having Olson as a Home Visitor makes all the difference in helping her daughter learn and grow.
The program supports pregnant moms and kids up to three years old through parental education, developmental screenings and activities. Plus, links to needed resources like diapers.
"Basically we're there to really nurture and support a family so that child so that child has a wonderful environment to grow up in," said Cindy Pisano, the Supervisor of the Healthy Connections Department with Mercy Health.
A big part of that support is home visitations which were suspended by the governor due to the coronavirus pandemic. But the home visitors themselves, like Olson, aren't letting that stop them from getting their families the support they need.
"I usually go out and take diapers to my families and then I've been taking just some creative activities to encourage them to get outside in their yard for a little bit with their kids," said Olson.
Even though Olson can't go inside, Payne said she appreciates the efforts Olson makes to keep her daughter on track.
"She brought her own chalk. She had her bag. My daughter had her own bag and they were jsut drawing and it was really nice to be able to interact with her from a safe distance," said Payne.
It's not clear when home visitations will resume as normal. But for families in need, referrals are still being taken for people who are WIC or Medicaid eligible. Just call 419-251-2282 or 1-800-755-4769.