Children’s Aid care coordinators are trained health professionals that help manage a client’s care, connect them with health care providers, and evaluate their progress. Felisa Nickel, a care coordinator with the Health Connections program in our Health and Wellness division is one such dedicated team member. Felisa has been working at Children’s Aid for more than three years, but said her work has changed dramatically over the last five months.
Since the pandemic began in March, Felisa has been visiting multiple pantries in Staten Island every week, and delivering food to several of our neediest families. The New York State Department of Health waived the requirement for face-to-face encounters during the pandemic for health homes serving children programs. With this change Felisa was only required to do telehealth outreach. However, she often went above and beyond to ensure our families had more than just access to healthcare.
On the days the pantries were either not open or did not have enough provisions, Felisa goes grocery shopping for the families, sometimes utilizing her own financial resources to buy bread, meat, and vegetables. This was particularly helpful when the caregiver of one family contracted COVID-19, and was unable to leave home. The parent knew she could rely on Felisa, and that because of her help, she would be able to feed her children as she recovered from her illness.
“Mom wasn't able to get out and she has two children with severe autism,” said Felisa. “I got involved in two different pantries and go and pick up food and drop it off outside of the door.”
Felisa not only helped the family who was suffering from COVID-19, but also brought food and other needed supplies to two other families. She said the parents were overwhelmed with appreciation.
“She was really happy and she didn't expect this,” said Felisa. “She knew that my role wasn't that [buying food], it was mostly helping her with the appointments and all the issues that she needed. But, I started getting involved, telling her how to navigate, and call the pantries herself. Of course she wasn't able to do that because she wasn't able to talk. So, I helped.”
Felisa is described by her peers as caring, dedicated, and someone that embodies the mission and values of Children’s Aid. Her commitment to the families she serves, even in the midst of a pandemic, will ensure they do not face more unnecessary hurdles.
Children's Aid's Health Connections program is a downstream provider of the Children's Health Home of the Collaborative for Children and Families.