Essential care workers looking after individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities are coping with unique consequences of the coronavirus, as social distancing and work-from-home regulations are severely limiting their interactions with patients.

Earl Young, a supervisor in the case management branch at the Hawaii Department of Health’s developmental disabilities division, calls the pandemic “the most difficult challenge our division has ever faced.”

The virus has put limitations on many critical care services, including adult day health, skilled nursing, a personal emergency response system, and specialized medical equipment and supplies. “What makes this whole situation complicated,” says Young, “is being able to provide continued care and services at the same time we are trying to be safe and healthy without direct interaction with our clients.”

Nonetheless, he says, “[w]e are fully committed to our work. Our goal first and foremost is to help our participants and their families, providing them with the support and services so they can live safe, healthy and meaningful lives in the community,” he said. “We won’t stop working to make sure that continues, pandemic or not.”

Read more about Earl Young and the unique challenges of working with individuals with developmental disabilities during the coronavirus here.