Access to Independence and Seven Valleys Coalition are partnering to provide transportation to a local healthcare and vaccine clinic for individuals with disabilities.
Family Health Network’s mobile medical unit is hosting a healthcare and COVID-19 vaccine clinic from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday at Loaves & Fishes on 13 Court St. in Cortland.
Access to Independence recently received a grant to help individuals with disabilities get to their destination, including the clinic. Those looking to set up a ride can contact Catherine Wilde, project coordinator at Seven Valleys Health Coalition, at either [email protected] or at 607-756-4198.
“We’re removing any barriers for those folks,” said Alexandra Mikowski, executive director at Access to Independence.
The grant was credited to ABLE South Carolina, or ABLE SC, through a grant from the federal government.
Mikowski noted the grant is being used to encourage more individuals to get the vaccine, and for people to feel confident in the vaccines they have already received.
“We can share for us as people with disabilities how getting the vaccine helped us to be able to do the things we love, travel and to see our family,” she said.
Mikowski said FHN will provide the original COVID-19 vaccine and the updated booster shot at its clinic. For more information, go to the FHN Facebook page or call 607-753-3797.
“People with disabilities get to make choices about their own lives,” Mikowski said. “They’re not given the opportunity or other people think they know better. People with disabilities get to choose where they want to live, what doctors they want to go to, and if they want to get a vaccine or not. We just want to make sure people have the right to advocate for themselves.”
Mikowski also mentioned Access to Independence is giving out free COVID-19 tests and masks, in case individuals want to take precautions in high-risk areas.
Access to Independence provided information on the grant in one of its newsletters last year:
“This ‘vaccine grant’ (as we’re calling it) is part of a demonstration project to show that independent living centers like Access To Independence (ATI) are powerful and effective when it comes to making connections within their local communities. The work we’re doing with these funds is going to show that people with disabilities are just like their peers who are “temporarily able-bodied" in that they connect best with people who they have shared life experience with. We are excited to show everyone how effectively ATI can help connect people with disabilities and their support systems to community resources – something we already do here every day as an ILC.”
“Within the context of this grant, we are looking to reduce barriers to getting COVID-19 vaccines (both the initial series and boosters) for people with disabilities. From talking to people in our community and based on the lived experience of our staff members, we know that it is often much harder for people with disabilities to get the healthcare that they need. It can be hard to find a site that is physically accessible to you, or to find one that uses your method of communication. Sometimes it’s overwhelming to think about going to a new place for healthcare, especially for something that so many people still have questions about. We hope to be able to reduce barriers to vaccination by using a variety of different strategies so folks who want to either get boosted or get their original series are able to do so.”
Those requesting information from Access to Independence can reach them at 607-753-7363.