Editor’s note: Home Sweet Home is a feature appearing Mondays in McKnight’s Home Care Daily Pulse. The story focuses on a heartwarming, entertaining or quirky happening affecting the world of home care. If you have a topic that might be worthy of the spotlight in Home Sweet Home, please email Caroline Szachnowski at [email protected].

During the pandemic, a shout-out of appreciation can go a long way in boosting morale among frontline healthcare workers. To honor these dedicated employees, DailyPay, an on-demand pay provider, bestows Healthcare Heroes awards. 

For the second-annual awards announced earlier this month, two of the four recipients are home care workers: Justine Alcantara, a field liaison for Ultimate Care in Brooklyn, NY, and Yolandi Carrasquillo, a caregiver for Patriot Homecare. This year’s other winners were Marika Pelaez, an administrative assistant for Mission Health in Tampa, FL, and Amee Pham, LPN, a charge nurse for IntelyCare.

“People were giving everything they had to save lives during crazy pandemic times and as we look at who’s on the front lines during the pandemic, we realized that healthcare workers are incredible heroes,” Jeanniey Walden, chief innovation and marketing officer for DailyPay, explained to McKnight’s Home Care Daily Pulse. “They’re putting their lives on the line every day to save the lives of all of us. We wanted to take a stand for a fabulous group of workers that we appreciate.”

Unsung heroes

DailyPay, which works with healthcare companies to provide on-demand access to employees’ earned pay, launched the awards after the onset of COVID-19. It came to the conclusion that while the number of hours healthcare workers were working was increasing, so were rates of burnout, stress and turnaround. 

Not a CEO or a doctor? Not a problem. The Healthcare Heroes awards recognize workers from any roles and responsibilities who have demonstrated tremendous work ethic in unprecedented times.

“It’s really focused on those people who are the unsung heroes who you wouldn’t even necessarily realize have made so many lives great,” Walden said.

In the case of Carrasquillo, her unparalleled work ethic and selflessness led to her nomination. She regularly stays with her clients all day and even played a role in saving one of her client’s lives when he suffered a stroke. Had she not been there to soothe his family, start CPR and call 911, he would have passed away. 

“These are people who are getting recognition for just being amazing and waking up every day and doing what is right,” Walden said. “So I would say we skew more towards the people that are making a difference that you don’t really recognize as much, but should be.”

Above and beyond

While there is no fixed nomination criteria for healthcare professionals to meet in order to be nominated, the general trend is that all nominees have gone above and beyond to serve others, Walden said. 

“The criteria is it’s clear you’ve gone above and beyond the call of duty and you’re doing something incredibly special for your group, town and community,” Walden explained. “We can see and appreciate that. We accept different nominations from a variety of sources and let the nominations speak for themselves.” 

The nomination process varies. One way someone can be nominated is via DailyPay partner companies. The partner companies can nominate someone who has done exceptional work on the frontlines. 

“We accept different nominations from a variety of sources and really just let the nominations speak for themselves,” Walden explained. “We have a panel that evaluates the nominations and decides who will be featured.”