Drivers who take nursing home residents to appointments face challenges during pandemic

WWNY Drivers who take nursing home residents to appointments face challenges during pandemic

OGDENSBURG, N.Y. (WWNY) - There are so many unsung heroes in the fight against COVID-19. We take a look at how one such group is holding up.

When we think of frontline workers fighting COVID-19, we think of doctors and nurses. But how about those who drive nursing home patients? They’re on the frontlines as well.

“Never even thought there would be a pandemic, but you just take it with a grain of salt and do what you can do,” said

Jeff Trathen, Frary Medical Transport driver.

A COVID-19 outbreak at a United Helpers nursing home in Ogdensburg has everyone on edge. More than two-thirds of patients there have tested positive for the virus.

“Everything is a challenge,” said Matthew Denner, St. Lawrence Co. Emergency Services director. “It’s new for everybody. It’s a learning curve everyday on everything.”

On Wednesday, Frary Medical Transport drivers double-checked that masks don’t leak. A patient pickup from United Helpers requires gown, gloves, masks, shields and more. Patients, some COVID-positive, are in close quarters with drivers.

“There’s … that extra anxiety sometimes that you really, you know, tells you that you need to just be careful,” said Trathen.

The drivers get nursing home residents to critical appointments, such as for kidney dialysis. The rewards of the job are still there.

“You carry on a conversation with the people. You get to know them very well,” said Trathen.

But, that can make the job a little harder; 12 residents at United Helpers have died.

“It is something that makes you think about it a little stronger than if you didn’t know somebody in there,” said

Trathen.

Trathen and other drivers say they have no intention of quitting. But like the rest of us, they hope and pray things will get better.

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