ITHACA, N.Y. –– Over the last two months, a county push to vaccinate seniors has resulted in the majority of residents at Titus Towers and McGraw House, two of the County’s largest senior housing facilities, receiving full vaccinations. Beyond Titus and McGraw the effort to get people 60+ vaccinated, who may be at a higher risk for developing severe complications from COVID-19, has extended to all senior facilities, though not through the same hands-on clinic and transportation services.
County officials organized the vaccination campaign at Titus and McGraw, including transportation directly to vaccination sites. Trasnportation was coordinated with help from both Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit (TCAT) and it’s accessible transportation arm Gadabout.
“TCAT has worked tirelessly to provide safe, reliable rides throughout the pandemic, Scot Vanderpool, general manager of TCAT said. “We were happy to be part of this effort and continue to serve our community.”
Kristen Wells, executive director of Gadabout transportation services, added, “A majority of our Gadabout drivers are over the age of 60 and were thrilled to provide this service to their peers so they could be vaccinated. We have worked closely with the Health Department throughout the pandemic to provide a safe environment for our drivers and riders.”
Partners involved in this vaccination effort included Ithaca Housing Authority, various senior living facilities across Tompkins County, TCAT, Gadabout, Cayuga Health System, and the Tompkins County Health Department.
“This pandemic has shown us time and time again how fortunate we are to have partners who come together to solve challenging situations,” Frank Kruppa, public health director said.
Kruppa continued, adding that the effort has been several months in the making.
“I want to thank all of the agencies involved in this effort, especially the staff at Titus and McGraw who registered their residents for appointments and made sure everyone got to and from the vaccination clinic at the mall,” he said. “As of last week, all of our senior housing facilities have been offered vaccine.”
Brenda Westfall, Executive Director of Ithaca Housing Authority, which operates Titus Towers, said that 180 of 230 residents have now been vaccinate, a feat she said wouldn’t have been possible without the health department’s help. Westfall said that 110 of the 180 needed the public transportation provided, and that 150 participating in vaccine clinics.
“It was definitely a huge undertaking…but it worked,” she said.
Westfall added, “I want to thank my staff for their efforts to register our residents as well as the Health Department, Cayuga Health, and our transportation partners for creating a coordinated and safe process. Our residents were excited to get vaccinated and have the experience of going to the mall site. The opportunity to receive the vaccine has given the residents newfound hope and comfort after what has been a very long year for everyone.”
Viki McDonald, Executive Director of McGraw House said that all but six McGraw House residents are now inoculated with the COVID-19 vaccine.
“I would like to thank the Tompkins County Health Department and Cayuga Health for their contributions in achieving that tremendous goal. We can finally see the light at the end of this very long tunnel and that is a beautiful moment to celebrate,” McDonald said.
TCHD continues to encourage everyone who is eligible to sign up for the Tompkins County COVID-19 Vaccine Registry.
For more information on COVID-19 locally, check out the health department online at TompkinsCountyNY.gov/health, and follow them on Facebook at Facebook.com/TompkinsPublicHealth and on Twitter at @TompkinsHealth.