Community Reach offering vaccine rides to seniors in the area

·2 min read

A local non-profit wants to put vaccinations within reach for seniors in the area.

Community Reach is encouraging North Simcoe seniors to reach out to staff to book a ride to the Midland or Penetanguishene vaccination centre. Cathy Greer, executive director of the area senior and accessible transit service organization, said staff will do a quick intake for Community Reach and arrange for a vehicle to take the resident to get vaccinated.

"We're hearing that there are quite a number of people that still don't know of our service," she said. "We're trying to help the health unit and the vaccine roll-out program, so we're offering that anybody who wants to go in for their vaccine shot, we will do a short registration for our services and take them to either of the two centres in Midland or Penetanguishene."

However, Greer stressed that staff at the non-profit are not able to assist with booking vaccine appointments. Those should be done online through the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit website or by calling the provincial vaccine booking line at 1-888-999-6488.

Community Reach, she said, is a service available for North Simcoe residents that need accessible transit with the need continuing throughout the pandemic.

"It's really interesting because the numbers haven't changed that much," she said. "We're still getting the same number of requests, but the quality has changed. People are asking for transport for medical trips to the GTA (Greater Toronto Area), Barrie, and even London, Ontario. They're addressing the backlog and calling people in for appointments. We try and accommodate everybody."

Staff also book rides for trips to the bank, shopping and other local appointments, said Greer.

The organization's 10 paid drivers have been vaccinated, she said, adding only four volunteer ones have received their vaccination as of now. The remaining volunteer members are currently off the duty roster.

All drivers still follow all the health unit protocols, such as wearing PPEs, social distancing and cleaning the van after every visit, according to Greer, who noted the practice comes with a cost.

She said she didn't have an exact number, but was thankful for the support Community Reach gets from residents, donors and local organizations such as the Lions Clubs, Legions, Huronia Community Foundation and the Town of Penetanguishene and each of the townships.

"We want to see the service continuing," Greer said. "People who don't use our services don't know about us, but they may need us at some point for their parents or themselves. The more people who know, the more we can help. It's a safe way of travelling to appointments."

For more information and to book a ride, visit the Community Reach website.

Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com