Life Senior Services is offering a free ride service to help seniors get to COVID vaccine appointments.
They saw a lot of people using the shuttle at the beginning of the year, but then it slowed down over the summer. Now it's picking back up because a lot of people are scheduling booster shot appointments, so Life Senior Services just wants to remind seniors this is still available to them if they need a ride.
"People are very appreciative of the service, so it feels good," said Life Senior Services Driver Doug Smarinsky.
Smarinsky has been driving for Life Senior Services for nine months now.
He said he retired early, but wanted to find a part-time job where he could help people, so now he's driving seniors to medical appointments, adult day programs and even to get their COVID-19 vaccines.
“You get to know them, hear about their families, about their past,” said Smarinsky. “It's quite an experience."
Life Senior Services said they started helping seniors schedule their COVID-19 vaccine appointments in January, but noticed a lot of them needed help getting there. Now with additional federal CARES funding, they're able to transport any senior 55 or older.
“We were talking to people who were 94, 98, they wanted that COVID vaccine, they wanted to stay safe, but they weren't driving anymore,” said President and CEO of Life Senior Services, Eileen Bradshaw.
Bradshaw said when seniors call, they'll coordinate a driver to pick them up, stay there while they're at their appointment, and take them home.
"There's no income guidelines, you don't have to have any previous affiliation with Life. It's really any senior in the Metro Tulsa area that needs this kind of transportation can call us and we'll get it set up,” said Bradshaw.
Smarinsky said even though he only gets to drive seniors to vaccine appointments once or twice, he enjoys the conversations they have along the way and feels like the work he's doing is meaningful.
"Many people have no other avenue to access these sites to get the shots so I feel good about it, they feel good about it. It's just an awesome plan that we have," said Smarinsky.
Life Senior Services said if you need help scheduling a vaccine or if you want to schedule a ride, you can call 918-664-9000.
They recommend giving 48 hours' notice before the appointment so they can get the ride set up.