People helping those with developmental disabilities need PPE

OAK HARBOR, Ohio (WTVG) - It’s become part of our everyday language these days: personal protection equipment, or PPE for short.

Hospital workers and first responders need it desperately, but there are other groups looking for some as well and it's becoming much harder to find.

While we’ve all learned about PPE in the last month, how about a new acronym: DSP, or direct support professionals. They’re working in our neighborhoods and we probably don't even know it.

Living independently throughout our region are people with development disabilities. To help them live this way, sometimes direct support professional come to their homes, maybe once a day, maybe once a week, even during COVID- 19.

"We're still going out. We're still going to people's homes. We're still supporting them," said Sarah Millimen, CEO of Riverview Industries.

Riverview Industries is helping people with development disabilities in places like Wood, Ottawa and Erie counties. The organization like so many is looking for protective equipment such as gloves and masks.

“There's a PPE shortage; we absolutely believe the hospitals, the nursing homes, they need it, but we absolutely need it, too,” said Millimen.

Equipment like this is vital not because of what the individual in the home may have but what could be coming into that home.

“A lot of the people we support haven't really been out in the last two weeks so if they were to get something it would be because staff were bringing it in. So we want to make sure that staff is protecting the people we serve and themselves,” Millimen.

While direct service professionals have been deemed essential, some suppliers have said they don't meet the criteria for ordering this now essential material. Millimen is hoping the public will realize the need.

"I think people forget what we do sometimes, which is actually great because we should kind of be in the background and people with disabilities should be in the forefront living their lives,” Millimen said.

If you want to help not only this group but anyone working with folks with development disabilities, you can contact your local board of developmental disabilities to drop off any material you may have.