Essential workers have been showing up and continuing to do the work required to keep things moving forward in the face of closures, cancellations and uncertainty.
This week, in the first installment of a series recognizing essential workers, the Herald profiles Annette Barela, a medical assistant at the Saint Vincent Medical Clinic.
In her three years on the job, Barela has found her place in caring for patients who come to the clinic.
In Barela’s day-to-day functions, she shows patients to exam rooms, takes patient’s vital signs in preparation for a doctor, fields calls from people about their medications, answers questions patients have about their healthcare and supports the backend of the clinic.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began impacting Lake County, Barela saw an increase in calls from the public asking about testing and symptoms. Though the number of calls has since waned, she and her colleagues still field such calls.
Barela encouraged patients to call the clinic if they have questions about their health and COVID-19, letting people know the clinic will educate them about what needs to happen if they are experiencing symptoms.
Barela has a six-year-old child who is home as a result of school closures. The added task of providing childcare has complicated her daily routine, though she is grateful for the extra time she’s able to spend with her family.
As an essential worker, Barela has felt the strain of still being required to maintain her functions at the clinic while also looking after her family.
“I think everybody’s been impacted but in their own way,” Barela said.
When not at work, Barela enjoys spending time with her family. Although their plans have changed as a result of closures and cancellations, they have found ways to entertain each other during the closures and are looking forward to the summer, with fingers crossed that they will be able to go to events and outings.
When asked how the community can support workers in her position, Barela asked that the community be patient, seek out accurate information and abide by precautions put in place to restrict the spread of COVID-19, including the stay-at-home order and social distancing.
“We’re all in the same boat in the end, whether you’re the doctor treating patients or you’re the patient on the street who’s not sure what to do, we’re all having to do the same things to get through it,” Barela said.