Coronavirus Updates

Learn about all we're doing to respond to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Read More

Working During a Pandemic

Hear from two of our staff members on the challenges they faced while working during the pandemic.

Although we’re starting to take a turn in this pandemic, we’re not out of the woods yet! We need to thank our staff for all their efforts during the pandemic. Without you, none of this would be possible! We know you’ve had to work double shifts, work unexpectedly because someone calls in, or make an unexpected visit to the ER at 3 in the morning. We see the hardships you face – and we can’t thank you enough for everything you are doing! 

We want to share two stories from our staff on the sacrifices they’ve made while working during the pandemic, but please note there are so many more untold stories happening every day.

In the Way of Danger

Take Ruth Okai, for example. One night last April, Ruth got called in to work the overnight shift at Janet Court. Because no one else could work it, Ruth agreed to come in and work. Little did she know how that drive would  change her life forever.

On her way to work in the pouring rain, she ran into a ton of road construction and needed to reroute her GPS. She pulled into an empty parking lot to do so—little did she know, that was the exact parking lot that Daunte Wright had been fatally shot at by a police officer the night before. That night, the city had a curfew.

When the police pulled her over, she couldn’t hear them over the loudspeaker because of the heavy rain. “I was shaking and crying...I didn’t know what to do,” said Ruth. She was so scared, she stayed in her car for nearly 5 minutes. The incident escalated so quickly that the police had their guns drawn when they approached her car. “I don’t even know how to describe the fear I was in...I was so traumatized.”

When the police came over to her car, she tried to pull up the Essential Worker Letter Phoenix had sent all staff, but she was having technical difficulties. Eventually the police cleared her name, but not surprisingly, that incident impacted Ruth for the rest of her life. “I’m very afraid of the police...I panic now when I see the police, especially when their lights are on.”

Despite the tragedy, Ruth's commitment to Phoenix helped her persevere afterwards. She would like to thank Phoenix for the compassion and care they showed her following the incident. "I have never felt such warmth before from a company," said Ruth. "I'm happy to work for a company with such caring leaders."

Displaced from Home

Or take Amina Siddique’s story, for example. This last spring, she had to stay in a hotel for four days because she couldn’t get to her home in Brooklyn Center. This too was a result of all the protesting during this racial movement.

“I had to stay in the hotel so I could continue to work,” said Amina. “This pandemic has been hard. I’ve had to work 13 – 14 hour shifts before...it’s hard to make time for your family.”

For Amina, working was even more risky. Amina has leukemia, so her immune system is even more vulnerable. “We were all scared [working during the pandemic],” said Amina. “We were nervous because we didn’t want to get COVID. I had to pray every day that I didn’t get it.”

But her love for the people she works with, kept her going. “I like taking care of my guys and getting to know them... It’s always been my passion.”

Workforce Shortage Continues

Getting to work is only half of the equation. Despite our best efforts, we are still experiencing a workforce shortage! We have had our administration team working shifts on the floor, our nursing team working tirelessly to train in new staff on medication procedures, and our Assistant Program Directors for filling in when we don’t have a manager.

Thank you to each and every one of our staff for helping us fight this pandemic! We will get through this together!