Ida Rodriguez had a challenge on her hands. A client service manager for Bayada Home Health Care -- an international company that connects people with home health aides -- one of her clients had just been diagnosed with heart disease and was devastated.
But Rodriguez knew exactly what to say.
“Look, it's okay. You have heart disease. But you know why? Because your heart is so big, and you have so much love to give.”
Stories like that were exactly why the state legislature awarded Rodriguez with a surprise ceremony resolution at Bayada's Union City office March 7. The resolution honored her “outstanding performance in advocating for home care for constituents in West New York, as well as other Hudson County towns.” It was also to honor her receiving Bayada's 2016 Hearts for Home Care New Jersey Ambassador of the Year.”
Rodriguez's family, including her two sons, husband and mother, were at the ceremony, along with her colleagues.
Bayada is an international, for-profit company that has locations in 22 states and five countries, including the U.S. It coordinates and accepts reimbursement from the largest group of health insurance payors in the country, including Medicare, veterans benefits, workers’ compensation, and HMO’s. The Union City office exclusively accepts Medicaid.
Serving the most vulnerable
Assemblywoman Angelica Jimenez, who has worked with Rodriguez to better understand her constituents' needs from a home health care perspective, hand delivered the proclamation.
“This is way more than I expected.”
“It's amazing,” said a teary-eyed Rodriguez, who lives in Dumont, after receiving the award. “This is way more than I expected. You do what you do; you try to just help people get the right care. And you want—my mom and your mom—to feel like they're loved and they can stay home and they don't have to go to the hospital.”
Clients or their caregivers usually call Bayada for home health aides, or doctors recommend them to Bayada. Most clients are low-income.
Bayada Director Louise Lindenmeier said, “She represents her clients, her employees and her office staff to all aspects of the community. The legislators appreciate the work that Ida has done.”
“This is definitely an honor on my part,” added Wanda Metayer, an associate director for Bayada who oversees Rodriguez. “To me, I am so grateful to even have someone as prestigious as Ida, supporting our patients, supporting our field employees. She's consistently trying to be advocating for them, making a voice for them, telling them that we're here.”
In addition to helping those who need home care the most, Rodriguez has also focused on ensuring her home aides are compensated accordingly.
“She's been fighting for increase in rates and changes in the state to please our field employees,” Metayer said, “to keep the field employees, to keep them actively working.”
In that spirit, Bayada is working on creating a certified home health aide class Apr. 17 for unemployed individuals.
“By getting them certified here in New Jersey, we'll be able to provide more health and keep more individuals at home, caring and providing home health aides, making sure that all their personal care needs are met,” said Metayer, who organized the surprise ceremony.
She recalled a moment years ago where Rodriguez comforted an 85-year-old patient who'd just lost her home in a fire.
“Ida made sure that we were there the moment that the fire starred; we got the phone call. Ida called the family members. She made it her business to be there. She offered the patient to stay here [at the office], in lieu of keeping her in the cold.”
Fredy Villarreal, an area director for Bayada, said, “Her name comes up in every conversation when we're talking about really fighting for the people. It takes a special kind of person to know your clients in that way, to be able to connect in that way and change somebody's perception.”
Rodriguez's husband, Alfredo Abon, said he knew her hard work would pay off. “She's very dedicated, and she likes what she does with the community,” he said.
Proud mother Luz Rodriguez was also basking in the moment. Her daughter's compassion is a byproduct of her upbringing, she said.
“We all contribute to neighborhoods and things like that,” she said. “It's a hereditary trait in our family. My brothers, my sisters, we all do. It's always important to give back a little bit of what you take from the neighborhood. Her contribution to the community is very profound. I know she puts her whole heart into this job.”
“I don't want to say I expect this from her, but it’s almost like I knew she could reach this potential easily, because I know she's such a worker,” said son Alfredo III.
Rodriguez's honors will not end in her office. The Bayada Government Affairs Office was set to send her to Washington D.C. March 15 and 16 for its “Our Awards Dinner” to honor the company's four Ambassadors of the Year. There, she will officially receive her Ambassador of The Year Award.
For more information on Bayada’s services, visit https://www.bayada.com/.
Hannington Dia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org