September 2020 – COVID-19 (6th Month Update)

Dear Hope Cooperative Supporters,

As we enter the 6th month of the pandemic I would like to reflect on our experience as essential workers in 2020.

In March when the first State of Emergency was declared our team was in full action mode immediately.  We fired up a peer support line for people dealing with anxiety and fear around the mysterious, unknown COVID-19.  Triage Navigator staff that were embedded in hospital emergency rooms and law enforcement were asked not to come in as these offices were dealing with their own staff.  So they took to the phones and provided support for anyone and everyone.  Calls came in from as far as Los Angeles and Orange County as well as our local Sacramentans. Staff supported them and helped them find local resources.

Our case management staff, doctors and nurses came up with creative and innovative solutions to provide for social distancing while still providing quality care and support.  Drive through injections sites for medication management were put into place and our healthcare professionals moved quickly to telemedicine.  This wasn’t always easy since our clients do not have the latest technology and advanced smart phones.   So staff drive to their homes, lend them an ipad and help them connect with their doctor.  Surprisingly, this level of service led to a reduction of no-shows and will be a practice we will likely continue.

Most staff were not set up to work from home so technical challenges presented themselves and we quickly tried to problem solve whenever possible.  We put into place protocols and set out to find PPE, Toilet Paper and cleaning supplies.  Our Managers were in line at Costco during a grand opening, creating relationships with distilleries to source hand sanitizer and Sacramento County kept us in masks.

As this pandemic has worn on and staff deal with childcare issues related to distance learning, as we have dealt with outbreaks and exposures at our various  programs (far less than I would have expected but more than we would have wished for)  I am continually amazed at their resilience.  The majority of our staff identify as people with their own lived experience with mental health or as a family member.  They have their own fears and anxieties and are constantly asked by their loved ones, why they do this work? Why put yourself in harm’s way?  It certainly isn’t for the pay.

This job is a calling, they do it because of their love for the most vulnerable. They do it because they know everyone needs human connection-especially in a pandemic.  They struggle from time to time because they are human.  What I am personally struck with is the incredible decency of the Hope Cooperative Staff.  They are unsung heroes.   We hear about health care workers in all forms, grocery workers and first responders.  We don’t hear much about mental health care workers.  As the pandemic persists, this may be the most important support we can give our fellow humans-the gift of connection, a listening ear when we are frightened, or lonely or anxious.  That is the daily work of Hope Cooperative staff and I am grateful just to know them.