Coronavirus help: Volunteer moves in to care for COVID-19 patient with disabilities

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A volunteer for a non-profit group in Cicero, that serves hundreds of adults with disabilities, has stepped up to help one resident of a group home who has tested positive for COVID-19.

The volunteer has since moved in with the patient to help care for him while he recovers.

Suited up in personal protective gear, direct care giver Ana Diaz Deleon and a co-worker gathered supplies to bring into a suburban Cook County house that is now the home of a man with disabilities who has tested positive for the coronavirus.

"We really need to support them, there is nothing to be afraid of as long as you are covered," said Diaz Deleon.

Deleon works for UCP Seguin of Greater Chicago, providing care for suburban adults and children with disabilities who rely on 24/7 assistance.

When 78-year-old "Moe" tested positive, he was moved into a special home that was set up for isolation. That's when Deleon moved in with him, leaving her own family to care for him while he remains quarantined.

"We are keeping our distance 6-feet apart, sometimes I have to talk louder with the mask and everything," Deleon said. "It's hard to understand. I point to stuff [and] I mimic what I need to do."

If more residents test positive, Seguin has a second isolation home ready to go. In the meantime, staff must continue the challenge of caring for others in group homes.

"We are dealing with adults with disabilities. They don't understand the shelter in place, they don't understand social distancing in many cases," said Joseph Mengoni with UCP Seguin of Greater Chicago. "It's really tricky with our staff."

Many residents have been taught how to communicate through FaceTime, Zoom or Ring cameras.

Wearing protective equipment is mandatory for all direct caregivers, but Seguin said they are running low.

"We have enough to last us throughout this coming weekend and then we are going to need supplies here," Mengoni said.

For them to continue serving the most vulnerable, Seguin - like so many non-profits, are worried they won't have enough money during this crisis to continue paying their dedicated staff.
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