What We Need - Danielle Lanzetta

May 1, 2020

My name is Danielle Lanzetta. I am 39 years old and was born with cerebral palsy spastic quadriplegia. Due to my condition, I am unable to care for myself, and have the physical capabilities, of a four-month-old infant. Prior to the Covid 19 pandemic, I received multiple support services. They included home health aide care (seven days a week, for 10 hours a day). I also received weekly sessions of occupational and physical therapy that help to keep my muscles loose, reduce pain and make moving easier. But much has changed in just one month. Due to Covid 19, I fear not only for my health, but for that of my aging parents.

I currently live in the Bronx, New York, in a two-bedroom apartment with my parents, that barely meets my accessibility needs. Since the outbreak of COVID-19 our lives have changed drastically. Normally my 71-year-old mother, Linda, works full-time, as a personal service representative for a local hospital. Now, she has had to apply for paid family leave because my home health aides are not coming to work as they fear contracting the virus, and it is impossible to get any replacements. This worries me greatly, because my mother suffers from a multitude of medical conditions, that makes taking care of me alone extremely difficult. Not to mention the fact, that she has had a complete shoulder replacement and moving me can be extremely painful for her and my father. My father, John, is a 74-year-old retiree, who has gone from operating film cameras for motion pictures; to acting as a transfer assistant, (literally lifting my 160-pound body from my bed to my wheelchair and back again). Like my mother, he also has a multitude of health conditions including stents in his heart. As if all this wasn't enough, they are also are now serving as my temporary physical and occupational therapists, since the center where I regularly receive treatment has temporarily closed. Now, my therapy sessions are 30 minutes each, and streamed through Facebook or Skype, while my therapist guides them through various stretches and activities to help keep me functional. While this is helpful given the situation, it is no replacement, for one on one in-person treatment!

I know you are working on the fourth relief package for COVID-19. I want to learn more about how you are going to help people with disabilities in this package.