An organization that provides support to more than 5,000 Missouri children and adults with disabilities continues to provide essential needs and programs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Easterseals Midwest executive vice president Jeanne Marshall says they provide services in hundreds of homes.
“We have individuals who live independently in their home and we provide staff, generally 24 hours a day to help them be as independent and supportive as they can,” Marshall says.
About 103,000 Missourians have an intellectual or developmental disability, according to Easterseals Midwest.
Marshall says Easterseals is in need of personal protective equipment (PPE), including gowns for disposable lab coats, masks, gloves and alcohol wipes. She says the PPE is key to protecting staff and those they serve.
Missourinet asked Governor Mike Parson about the Easterseals’ needs during a recent press conference, specifically PPE. The governor thanks the Easterseals and others who continue to go into homes to assist those with disabilities. He notes there is a shortage of PPE, but adds that many Missouri companies are stepping up to make additional personal protective equipment.
Easterseals Midwest provides services, education and outreach to Missourians with disabilities, and they’re still hiring during the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s especially the case in Columbia, Springfield and St. Louis.
Marshall says more than 15,000 Missourians work as direct support professionals.
“With that, we’ve been experiencing a workforce crisis for a couple of years now in this industry,” says Marshall. “Turnover is very high in most cases, that could be over 50 percent for turnover.”
Marshall says vacancy rates for positions range from 20 to 30 percent.
Easterseals Midwest has more than 1,000 staff members. Marshall choked-up, when speaking to Missourinet about the work her staff members do.
“Our staff go above and beyond. But we can’t thank them enough for the work they’re doing, and the impact they’re having,” Marshall says.
The organization is also providing respite care to Missouri first responders, doctors and nurses. Respite care is temporary care provided to caregivers of a child or adult.
Easterseals Midwest is also e-mailing families daily with autism strategies, especially with children home from school.
Easterseals has wait lists for most of their autism services in Springfield and southwest Missouri.
Anyone interesting in donating PPE or assisting Easterseals Midwest can check their website. You can also call them toll-free at 1-800-200-2119.
Click here to listen to Brian Hauswirth’s full six-minute interview with Easterseals Midwest executive vice president Jeanne Marshall, which was recorded on April 1, 2020:
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