TWIN FALLS — The College of Southern Idaho’s Office on Aging has been helping senior citizens throughout the pandemic by providing home delivered meals and even phone calls for people who have been feeling lonely. Now they will be working with the South Central Public Health District to arrange transportation for those who are 65 and older and need to get to their COVID-19 vaccination appointment.
This service is offered to all eight counties within the Magic Valley and the Office on Aging is acting as the hub in arranging rides with their partners, Living Independence Network Corporation (LINC), Interlink Volunteer Caregiver Service and Trans IV Buses.
This service specifically targets those who have no means of transportation, Public Information Officer and Contract Manager for the Office on Aging, Shawna Wasko, said “Being truly homebound means that you need help to access the community. If they’re truly homebound we will provide through those agencies a free ride for them.”
Prior to getting a ride, an appointment must be scheduled either with the health district, the Office on Aging, or another provider. However those who schedule with another provider will need to reach out to the Office on Aging themselves. Those who register through the health district or the Office on Aging will be asked directly if transportation is needed.
It’s also imperative to have your appointment scheduled in advance because the partners providing the free ride work on a time sensitive schedule.
Brianna Bodily, the Public Information Officer for the South Central Public Health District said, “These agencies that provide the transportation ask to have at least 48 hours notice so that they can arrange for transportation. This isn’t a situation where you can wait until the hour before and ask for it. They do need some time to make sure that somebody is available and there is a vehicle available or you.”
Since this service covers such a large region, it’s important that people who can find rides through friends or family do not abuse this system
“This is for individuals who have no other option because coordinating these services can be very difficult, especially because we can’t charter a bus, we can’t charter a big van and go pick up a bunch of people at a time. For the most part this has to be on an individual by individual basis,” said Bodily.
Officials from the Office on Aging hope that this arrangement will be able to speed up the vaccination process for seniors and get them back to living a normal life.
Wasko said, “The sooner we get these people vaccinated, the sooner that they can start going out into the community, visiting their families, having their families visit them. It’s just going to solve a lot of issues of this terrible isolation that seniors are under.”