We are delighted to share the exciting news that Emmaus’ very own Direct Support Professional, Winnie Ndarua, is a recipient of the 2020 Direct Support Professional COVID Hero Award from the St. Charles Coalition of Service Providers. This award is designed to recognize those individuals who have demonstrated consistent dedication and who are frequently going above and beyond their typical day to day responsibilities specifically during the time of COVID. Winnie is one of our DSP’s who worked part time. When the COVID crisis hit our area at the end of March 2020, Winnie began working full time hours to support a client who was having a lot of physical and behavioral health challenges.
Right at the beginning of the pandemic this client was admitted to the hospital due to significant decline in physical health. Due to the pandemic the hospital did not permit a team member to come into the hospital with the client. The team advocated and explained due to communication barriers and behavioral support needs, staff advocacy would be needed. The hospital declined, but within 12 hours called back and asked for assistance. Winnie immediately volunteered to go and stay with the client.
Winnie put her client’s needs before her own and began “sheltering in place” with our client while she was at the hospital. Winnie slept at the hospital and ran home to shower and change clothes. She remained at the hospital with the client for 2 weeks advocating for treatment for the client, while the hospital focused on pain management. Winnie tirelessly advocated for the client’s health and wellness. The client was then admitted, discharged and readmitted 3 times within 2 weeks. The hospital was medicating instead of trying to find the root of the problem.
Because the client could not verbally communicate with the medical providers, she was not receiving treatments with the intent of healing; she was only receiving pain management. The hospital was hesitant to perform any surgical procedures for the client. The hospital actually recommended hospice! Winnie advocated for the client and indicated the client was still in pain and discomfort and hospice was not appropriate as other treatments had not been tried.
Upon discharge Winnie assisted in following up with a specialist and ultimately the client had a surgical procedure which has since relieved pain, discomfort, and other symptoms. After this, Winnie temporarily moved in with the client to “shelter in place” and provide companionship and consistent support. This reduced opportunities for exposure for the client while she healed and ensured all her needs would be met. This in turn, reduced the aggressive behaviors as the client was no longer in pain! The client’s health and wellness is due to Winnie being a HERO and phenomenal DSP- always putting the client’s dignity and quality of life first.