Photo via Mary Daniel/Facebook
Florida on Sunday reached a record-high same-day increase in COVID-19 infections, peaking at 15,300 more people testing positive
. That's way more cases than any other state, nearly twice California's increase of 7,700-plus, and way more than all of Russia's 6,500
-plus new cases.
At least there was some "warm and fuzzy" Florida news to report over the weekend, as the Today show featured
Jacksonville woman Mary Daniel, who was so stricken by the inability to see her husband Steve, an Alzheimer's patient, that she took a dishwashing job at his nursing home.
"I put him in a memory care center and everything was going really, really well," Mary told CBS News
. "He was thriving with all the people, and in March, obviously everything changed."
That's when Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis closed nursing homes to outside visitors, in an attempt to protect elderly patients from the coronavirus pandemic. Since then, the husband and wife had been apart for 114 days.
Mary tried to visit Steve using FaceTime and on the phone through a window, but says, "He just cried. You can’t explain it to him."
She asked the center if she could volunteer, but the current rules made that and other options impossible. Then, unexpectedly, the corporate office reached out and offered her a job as a dishwasher. She was reunited with a "teary-eyed" Steve on July 3.
Now, as that same governor continues to refuse public calls
for a mandatory statewide mask order — all while planning to hurtle vulnerable children back into uncertain and underfunded schools
next month — Mary Daniels' strategy reveals the kind of working-Floridian initiative and guile honed by living through Florida's unemployment and healthcare dystopia.
Mary told media outlets
she sent "at least a hundred" messages to DeSantis asking for permission to visit her husband, and appeared on the local news to tell her story. But faced with silent rejection, she did what living in the Sunshine State prepares us all to do: Get desperate and get clever.
If you are facing a similarly daunting inability to see a loved one in an Orlando-area care facility — and you lack any professional medical training at all — you too can get hired to lend a hand, and maybe even score a rare visit. Check out just some of the positions open now:
If Nana is at Orlando's Excellence Assisted Living Facility right now, they need a kitchen assistant
for "general cleaning and organizing of kitchen areas."
In downtown Orlando, Westminster Communities of Florida is hiring a desk clerk
to respond to resident concerns and issues.
Palm Garden of Orlando needs someone "approachable, flexible and adaptable to change" on their team, too, as a dietary aide
. They also need a concierge-receptionist
and, for those with more experience, Palm Garden is also hiring a "life enrichment assistant."
If you have a loved one in Solaris Healthcare Windermere, they need a laundry assistant right now
. Out west, the Lakes of Clermont Health and Rehabilitation Center is looking to hire a new laundry aide
Guardian Care Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Orlando is hiring four temporary housekeepers
. In Winter Park, the Mayflower Retirement Community is hiring one full-time housekeeper
People with profound, severe and moderate intellectual disabilities need a caring hand to serve food at the Fern Park Developmental Center, which is hiring a dietary assistant right now
Even if you don't have a loved one inside who is cut off from in-person visits, you can take on meaningful employment at a long-term care center. It's not the safest work, and it isn't easy or lucrative, but you'd have the satisfaction of helping Florida's most isolated and vulnerable people.
Good luck on the job search!
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