Juneteenth Productions, a media production company run by Judith McCray, an adjunct professor in DePaul University’s College of Communications, has produced a series of podcasts about Chicago’s essential workers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic called Hope from the Front Lines.
“Hope from the Front Lines peeks behind the COVID-19 headlines to reveal the voices and day to day challenges of Chicago’s unsung essential caregivers—the daycare workers, certified nursing assistants, nursing home providers, hospital service workers, and group home care aides caring for the city’s most vulnerable during the pandemic,” McCray explained.
“Predominantly Black and Latinx, they work long hours for little pay and even less recognition,” McCray continued. “Their stories of resilience, perseverance, and strength shine a light during these dark times.”
The podcast series will post one episode per week on Thursdays through Nov. 5. “Once the episodes post they stay up and remain available,” she said.
The series is available on Sound Cloud, iTunes, Spotify, and most podcast platforms as well as at https://link.chtbl.com/5rsSo5ew, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HopeFromTheFrontLines, on Twitter at https://twitter.com/hopefrontlines, and on Instagram at www.instagram.com/hopefromthefrontlines/.
Episodes available include:
Lost Pay. The home health care industry is growing fast, poised to be worth more than $30 billion. The industry already struggles with fair labor practices, but COVID-19 hit and exposed those weaknesses. Marisol Garcia has worked with the same in-home care company since 2003 and contracted COVID-19 while at work. She was forced to quarantine for a month and has yet to receive pay for the lost time. Reporter/producer is Aiden Kent, a 2017 DePaul journalism alum who was one of McCray’s students. Also available in Spanish as Pago Perdito.
Child Care: Crisis Mode. Child care providers play a critical role in a stable economy that often goes overlooked, but with COVID-19 that role now is much clearer. For parents to get back to work, they need secure and affordable child care, but some providers are not ready to reopen. Others do not have enough space. In this episode, two home child care providers share their hopes and struggles as they navigate through a time of crisis. Reporter/producer is Erica Carbajal, who graduated from DePaul this year and also was taught by McCray.
Detective Caretaking. In group homes for developmentally disabled adults, COVID-19 infection happens faster, and proves deadlier, than for any other population. Not only are these numbers under researched, they are underreported. In this episode, one home care giver uses her investigative instincts to keep residents in a group home healthy, safe, and alive, against the odds. Reporter/producer is Ariel Mejia.
A Failure to Communicate. A look at how communication between nursing home management and such homes’ staff and residents is vital to treating and preventing coronavirus’s spread. The episode looks at two Chicago facilities taking very different approaches to protecting their staff and residents during the pandemic. The facilities’ different testing approaches resulted in two different outcomes. Reporter/producer is Maurice Bisaillon.
Divided We Stand. Nearly six months into the pandemic, hospitals across the U.S. still struggle to keep up with rising admissions of COVID-19 patients. Some hospitals have resumed elective surgeries and admitting visitors. In this episode, three hospital employees share their frustrations and vigilance fighting for hazard pay, respect, and appreciation. McCray is the reporter/producer.
The project has received funding support from the McCormick Foundation, and Juneteenth is working with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare Illinois/Indiana in identifying essential care workers and issues for the episodes.
For Juneteenth Productions, log on to juneteenthproductions.com.
—William S. Bike