* Mark Brown…
Roosevelt Journigans hasn’t left his workplace in 30 days, and he just signed up to extend that streak to 45 days before he finally goes home again.
Journigans is among 120 employees of Trinity Services Inc. who during the COVID-19 pandemic have moved into residential facilities for developmentally disabled individuals in Illinois to reduce the risk of transmitting the disease.
Instead of eight or nine different staff members a day coming and going across three eight-hour shifts at the Joliet care home where he works, Journigans and two other women left their own homes behind to live 24/7 at the facility for a month.
“At first I wasn’t interested,” said Journigans, 63, who normally lives with his sister in Lockport. “It worked out pretty good.”
It’s quite a personal sacrifice, albeit one that comes with additional compensation of overtime pay and bonuses.
The sacrifice also is made easier by the special relationships that often exist between residents and workers.
“You develop bonds with them. I always worry about them. Basically, we are their family,” he said.
The so-called “stay in place” approach requires workers to cut themselves off physically from the community, almost as if they were working on an oil well at sea.
And it appears to have worked. According to Brown, just six cases and one death have occurred at Trinity’s 100 facilities.
These workers, by the way, are AFSCME Local 2690 members. Journigans is the local president.
…Adding… Kathy Carmody, the CEO of the Institute on Public Policy for People with Disabilities…
Hi Rich –
Below is an excerpt from The Institute’s testimony on Wednesday before the Senate Healthcare and Human Services Workgroup. Agencies that have moved to this staffing model are literally saving the lives of some of our most vulnerable Illinoisans. Roosevelt Journigans and others like him across the state are truly deserving of our praise and appreciation.
Community organizations supporting people in residential settings, like other sectors of the health care industry, have been forced to adapt to the current landscape and make significant changes to their business and service models. In an effort to reduce exposure among CILA residents (nearly 30% of whom are age 60+ and many of whom have co-morbid conditions), agencies have changed their staffing model where possible from a shift-staff to a live-in model. This model greatly reduces exposure and risk however it is a costly proposition which cannot continue indefinitely. In addition to paying overtime and premium wages to staff working under the live-in model, organization are also paying staff who are not working regular wages to retain them. While this approach has indisputably saved lives, it is not a long-term sustainable staffing model. You may have read the article in today’s Chicago Sun Times about Trinity Services, an Institute member and their heroic team member Mr. Roosevelt Journigans who has been living in a Trinity facility for over a month with 2 more weeks still to go. In addition to the live-in model, organizations have widely implemented enhanced wages to staff working during this period in recognition of the risks they are exposed to on a daily basis. While our direct support workforce is as heroic and essential as other members of the healthcare sector, they unfortunately, are not as identifiable as many of their peers in that space.