Fairbanks healthcare worker recognized with award for service

Published: Sep. 20, 2021 at 4:13 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR) has awarded a Fairbanks Direct Support Professional (DSP) as the Alaska DSP of the Year.

According to Jessi Walton, Client Service Manager for AllWays Caring HomeCare and winner of the award, she provides care and assistance to both the elderly as well as those with developmental disabilities - and the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted how she helps her clients.

Walton explained, “I go into their homes and I help them with showering, cleaning their house, helping them with meal prepping, grocery shopping, and if they need to go to a doctor’s appointment.”

Walton continued, “Consumers got more concerned about who was going to be around them if they’re going to be vaccinated or not. A lot of our seniors don’t have the capabilities to use Zoom. They’re much older so it’s not really directed towards them. It has been really hard for them to go to their tele-health appointments.”

Many of the people in Walton’s care are the most vulnerable to COVID-19, so precautions and measures have to be taken to ensure their safety.

“I think with the normal preparedness, you just wash your hands often and take your normal precautions,” Walton remarked. “The masks were something that was different, it was really hard for some of the seniors to hear and understand you without being able to see your lips move. There was one time I had to wear a gown because my client had to go in an ambulance and there was the possibility that he was in the ambulance after somebody else who might have been having COVID. So I’d have to wear a gown whenever I went to that person’s house.”

And DSP workers are also feeling the effects of the pandemic’s pressure on the healthcare system.

“The shortage of caregivers is huge right now,” Walton said. “There’s not enough people to fill positions. For me now as a client service manager, it’s harder to be able to staff the people that I used to work within their homes because we just don’t have the caregivers.”

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