SCHOHARIE COUNTY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Machines are quiet and the work floor is empty at the Schoharie County ARC, but that’s because they’ve moved every person they can to where they’re really needed.
“We have deployed all of our day staff that normally work during the day to the residential homes to help support the folks there,” explains Executive Director Terry Tetlak.
ARC provides homes, food, medical needs, and job training to people with developmental disabilities. Tetlak says their staff are essential to give the around 100 people who live with them proper care during the COVID-19 crisis.
“People still need to have meals prepared or they need help preparing meals. In some instances, you have individuals who need assistance with getting dressed, with being fed, with showering, with toileting, so there’s no way to do that unless you have close proximity,” she explains to NEWS10’s Mikhaela Singleton.
Almost as important, keeping a very vulnerable population engaged and upbeat during a confusing time. Medical Director Doctor Joseph Luz says that makes it that much easier to help the disabled keep up with the coronavirus health standards.
“Most everybody you can get to laugh, and I think that really makes a huge difference in how comfortable people feel with your care and what you’re doing for them,” says Dr. Luz.
Schoharie County ARC also transformed their classrooms into quarantine rooms to be sure they can care for someone right away if they catch coronavirus. They’re also working on getting more PPE for their staff who are working very hard and very closely with their residents.
“For most of the individuals that we support, we are the only support that they have. We are the only family that they have, so without our agency being able to provide those supports and services, there really wouldn’t be anybody else there,” Tetlak says.