Little City Direct Support Professional volunteered to quarantine with resident
When a Little City resident tested positive for COVID-19 in April, the call immediately went out to find a staff member willing to take on the challenge of providing 24/7 care for the length of the quarantine.
The Direct Support Professional who answered that call was David Kim, which came as no surprise to his supervisor, LaCresha Everett.
"I absolutely love David's drive, and he was very courageous," Everett said. "David is like a four-leaf clover, very hard to find and very lucky to have."
When Kim put his name in for consideration, he wasn't sure he would get the assignment considering he had been at Little City for just under a year. But on Tuesday, April 7, Kim received a call asking if he was ready, and he knew then he was about to embark on an entirely new experience from what he had grown accustomed to during his first year on the job.
Kim said the magnitude of quarantining with a resident did not sink in until he was handed a special N95 mask for additional protection against the virus.
"Initially I was OK, but the brief moment I was scared was when they told me I could get rid of my normal mask and they handed me the N95 mask," Kim said. "I kind of realized then this was a little more dangerous than normal."
After being supplied with all the personal protective equipment he would need, David entered the specially designated quarantine space at Little City. From there, he and the resident -- who is nonverbal -- would end up spending quarantine together without ever leaving the space.
While the constant care and isolation demanded by the quarantine was challenging, Kim said the support from the Little City team is what helped him make it through.
Whether it was staff nurse Reuben Rosczyk training him on how to administer the resident's medication or Everett dropping off home-cooked meals, David said he never felt a lack of support.
Adult Residential Services Director Ola Olokun dropped off a specially requested Korean BBQ meal that Kim said neither he nor the resident will likely ever forget because it was such a morale booster when they both needed one.
Despite the challenging and extraordinary circumstances, Kim said he didn't feel like he was doing anything above and beyond until he had a video chat with the resident's mother during the quarantine.
"When I got to see (the resident's) mother on video call and we were able to have that call with her together, I realized then I was doing something more important than my job," he said.
"She seemed really grateful someone was there looking after her son."
And for all the gratitude Kim received from the resident's family, he said he is equally grateful to his co-workers and supervisors at Little City. Both Kim and the resident are out of quarantine, healthy and back to their normal routines.
Kim said he is approaching his job with even more appreciation for the residents than he had before. While he could not verbally communicate with the resident during the quarantine, he said he learned a great deal.
"Every Little City employee plays a pivotal role in ensuring the safety and well-being of the clients we serve, but it dawned on me that there are other heroes at Little City," Kim said. "Without the people we serve, we would just be ordinary. I cannot help but to think that those we serve are as much heroes to us as we are to them."
About Little City
Since 1959, Little City has provided vital support and services to children and adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities.
Today, Little City supports more than 1,300 people through services including community employment, residential, recreational, educational and foster care and adoption placements.
Little City has a 56-acre campus in Palatine, vocational training centers in Schaumburg and Waukegan, and a Foster Care & Adoption Office based in Chicago.