Great Lakes Home Care Unlimited, is a home healthcare business which began in Midland. It has since expanded to open branches to serve people in both Central, and Northern Michigan. This local family business is owned and operated by the Laming family.
Head of Marketing and Sales Matthew Laming, said that their business has had to make several adjustments to their normal routine, as COVID-19 restrictions were important to them.
While not ordered to shut down like other local businesses, the business faced its own challenges. In its case, it was how to provide safe care for their clients who needed it, while protecting themselves and the clients from COVID-19.
Laming, who has been at the business since June 2018 said: “The business has been hurt by some aspects of this global pandemic, which I guess is really a common thing for small businesses in the area. Although, we were not ordered to shut down when Gov. (Gretchen) Whitmer began the stay home stay safe order. We are considered essential business, just like healthcare.”
Great Lakes Home Care has had to make several adjustments due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Employee Isaiah Saladine said the business had several client call services off. These services that were cut included in house care for people, both medical, and non-medical care. This led to hours being cut for many employees. As well as adding restrictions on who can enter their offices, and how many people can be there. However, business did not completely stop.
“We still have our caregivers going to the places they are needed if services are still being requested by the client,” said Saladine. “The goal is to give enough hours to our caregivers to make up for the lost clients during this.”
The business states on its website that they provide both non-medical care, as well as skilled medical care. With this, they could encounter patients that are more vulnerable to COVID-19, meaning safety procedures are incredibly important, which was stated by both employees. Taking proper precautions on keeping staff and clients safe had to be the top priority for the business, said Laming and Saladine.
“We’ve asked our many caregivers to wear masks, especially if it makes the client feel safer,” said Saladine. “Also, the caregivers answer questions when they clock in about whether or not they were in contact with someone with COVID-19. If they did, they take 14 days off. Our rule is they aren’t permitted to return until they provide a doctor’s note testing negative.”
Having caregivers self-isolate until a negative test occurs is how they ensure that the virus does not spread into the office, and to the caregivers. To Laming, this requirement they have in place follows the logic that they would rather be safe than sorry.
Safety measures include having caregivers wearing personal protective equipment, such as the safer N-95 masks, and gloves, along with pushing proper hand washing and sanitizing. This is something that they said can be effective in keeping their business safe. Laming said these practices started back in March, and are all still in effect.
“We are gonna keep trying to be as safe as possible and follow all guidelines that we need to,” said Laming. “We maintain the same safety requirements in all our locations throughout the state, and we plan on keeping that as long as we need to so we can ensure our clients safety.”
A key thought for the employees of Great Lakes Home Care as stay at home orders are now being lifted, is how to move forward. Balancing starting bringing in new business while still staying safe from the looming threat of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Anytime you see business being opened back up, it shows that we are on the right track,” said Hunter Starka, a Midland resident. “It’s good for a home care business like Great Lakes to open even more than a restaurant. I hope they’re able to recover from business lost.”
“We are starting to see more clients go back on our services,” said Laming. “In terms of future plans, we are now hoping that recruiting clients picks back up. It’s probably a bit safer to do so now. We would like to get back to where we were, but safety is the biggest priority.”