LAKE BALBOA, Calif. — One mother is spending days and months away from her kids.
Kelly Grimes is a board certified behavior analyst who helps people with developmental disabilities. All of her clients need round -the-clock care and that hasn’t stopped during the pandemic.
The risk of contracting and spreading coronavirus with her family forced the mother of three to make an impossible choice.
“When it came time for me to decide what to do, I really had to look at the end of the day and decide who needed me more, and I felt that at this time, my clients needed me more,” said Grimes.
In March, her husband’s co-worker passed away due to COVID-19. That same month, Grimes moved out of her family’s home and into a studio apartment. For three months she stayed there alone to make sure she didn’t infect any of her loved ones while she continued to work.
“It definitely made me appreciate just the little things,” said Grimes.
She missed meals, birthday celebrations, and Mother’s Day.
Sometimes Grimes would ask what the kids were having for dinner so she could prepare the same meal and eat it with them over Zoom.
“It felt very isolating at times and I questioned and had to remind myself every day when I went home to an empty Airbnb studio why I was doing this and that I was making the right choice,” said Grimes.
Eventually, Grimes bought an RV and parked it in the driveway of her home. She is back living in the same house with her family until she’s notified through work she’s been exposed to the virus. Then she sleeps in the RV until she gets a negative test result.
Recently she started talking with her colleagues at the Adult Skills Center about what she’s been going through.
TASC provides education, job training and independent living services to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The nonprofit serves more than 200 low-income clients in the San Fernando Valley.
“I didn’t want to talk about it at first honestly. It was a little bit embarrassing for me. It was emotional and I wasn’t advertising that I had moved out of my family home. I didn’t know what other people would think,” said Grimes.
Grimes quickly learned several of her coworkers were doing the same kinds of things, isolating themselves to keep working.