So many members of the Clarke community have been making an incredible impact during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are eager to share some of their stories and celebrate their indispensable work, both inside and outside the home.
Natalia, parent of a toddler receiving Clarke tVISITs, welcomed a new baby to the family at the beginning of the pandemic.
Natalia Frimpong, Clarke Toddler Parent
Registered Nurse at an Extended Care Facility
Working in both admissions and as a floor nurse, Natalia takes a special pride in treating her patients like family. “I love my job,” she says. “I want to take care of my grandmas and grandpas and aunties and uncles. But there’s constant worry. I’m afraid. Am I protected enough?”
Natalia’s devotion to her patients is complicated by her commitment to keeping her family healthy—including their new baby girl, Christianna, born at the beginning of the pandemic. And when Christianna joined the family in March of 2020, mom Natalia, dad Joseph and two-year-old big brother Emmanuel (who receives services through Clarke’s Birth to Age Three Program) all had severe cases of the flu.
“People started getting sick at our facility in February,” Natalia remembers. “We thought it was the common cold. In my case, it turned out to be the flu, and it hit me so bad. I couldn’t breathe, I had pressure in my chest, chills. Christianna came a few days early, and then we were quarantined in the hospital as flu patients. We were still at the hospital when the real panic about COVID began, so they released us. About a week later, I had a postpartum hemorrhage and we had to go back for four days while I had emergency surgery. It was terrible. Joe was with me, and I successfully pleaded to have Christianna too, but Emmanuel couldn’t be with us. My mom helped, and people from church rotated caring for him.”
After such a distressing start to the year, a return to normalcy has been out of reach as the family navigates quarantine and social isolation during a pandemic. But Natalia says that she has found comfort bonding and connecting with her young children. “Emmanuel gives me hugs and kisses me on the cheek, and Christianna’s smile is infectious. Even on your worst day, you just have to smile. And the continuous support from Joe—caring for the children whilst I’m at work, ensuring I hose down after coming from work—has kept me sane. It’s good to have another person on guard because at times I do let my guard down.”
Natalia (left) with Emmanuel at a Clarke Infant-Toddler Group session in 2019.
While at home, they’ve been learning new recipes and completing several do-it-yourself projects. “That’s been fun with Emmanuel—he loves making artwork and doing crafty stuff. And that family time together has been nice.”
Emmanuel, who wears hearing aids, has been receiving Clarke services virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic. They have met with their Infant-Toddler Group through video sessions and continue to receive weekly coaching and support through tVISITs, Clarke’s teleservices program. “Clarke has been very, very helpful,” Natalia says. “Emmanuel definitely has a wide range of words now, and he loves talking on the phone! He will call anyone and start talking. And his favorite thing to say is ‘all done!’”
One of the aspects of pre-pandemic life that Natalia misses most is social interaction, specifically within her network at Clarke. “I’m looking forward to taking the kids to different places and mingling with other people,” she says. “Especially at Clarke gatherings! We look forward to those.”