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Local non-profit helps seniors with transportation to vaccination sites

Senior Transportation Connection shifted efforts during pandemic
Senior Transportation Connection
Posted at 4:36 PM, Feb 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-11 19:21:16-05

CLEVELAND — For some, getting an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccination is the most difficult part of the process. For others, it’s just the beginning.

The Cleveland-based non-profit Senior Transportation Connection is now working to ensure those in Cuyahoga County with appointments and living in adult living facilities are able to make their time slot.

Janice Dzigiel oversees the armada of engines they operate as their Executive Director.

“We’re 16 years old and our mission is to provide affordable accessible transportation to older adults in the community,” she said. “We know access is so important, not only for vaccines but for medical care, groceries and to get out and about.”

Senior Transportation Connection began just shuttling a handful of seniors to vaccination sites. Over the last month, that number continues to double on a weekly basis.

It’s an increase they haven’t seen since the pandemic began.

“We’re grateful we stayed open,” Dzigiel said.

Because of the pandemic, the program saw its ridership cut in half, from 132,000 trips in 2019 to a little more than 62,000 trips in 2020.

Bernice Johnson, 78, was among those signed up to use the bus service to receive the vaccine Thursday.

“In my family, I have about seven people with the virus,” she said. “I think I’ll feel protected.”

Johnson told News 5 she was initially skeptical about the virus but changed her mind over the past several months.

“I began to see people hospitalized,” she said. “People in my family that had it. I was wondering about myself and had a conference with my doctor.”

Now, thanks to the vaccine and this shuttle service, Johnson looks forward to the day she can return to her daily routine such as church.

“We couldn’t go to church as much and before the pandemic, I went to church every Sunday,” she said. “I’m going to be happy [when I can go] because that’s always a joyous time.”

To learn more about the non-profit shuttle service and how to enroll, click here.

In addition to shuttling seniors to vaccination sites, the non-profit continues to make trips for medical care and other amenities.