GOLETA, Calif. - Easy Lift Transportation says it is ready to help anyone who needs to get a COVID-19 shot and has a transportation issue.
The company specializes in transporting those with mobility issues whether its long term or a recent need. For the COVID needs, its services are casting a wide net to anyone who might be sidelined from a shot because of a lack of transportation.
Executive Director Ernesto Paredes says Easy Lift has been working with the Family Service Agency and Cottage Hospital to meet the needs of those who are scheduled for shots and need a ride.
The service has a fleet of vehicles ready to go, and Paredes says there will be able to schedule the rides to make sure no one is left on the sidelines if they can not get to their appointment on their own.
Outreach to those who are unsure of the process or are not English speaking and have sought a trusted partner can call FSA at (805) 325 5341. Messages are also going out in the form of social media posts, radio station appearances, and Public Service Announcements.
"It's just a simple phone and everyone else does the rest," said Lisa Valencia Sherratt with FSA. "People really have to trust the information, we just really want to be there as a trusted partner and be able to refer to other partners if needed and connect people with other resources."
Especially with the COVID crisis, solving unmet transportation needs is a priority during this medical crisis.
"If somebody just needs a ride whether it's for vaccination or anything else give us a call and we'll set it up and make sure they will get to where they need to go," said Paredes.
The number of people seeking vaccinations has shot up in recent weeks, and so has the coordination for rides and appointments.
"Our overall goal was to get a high volume through so we can get our community vaccinated. We wanted to make it as efficient as possible but we wanted to make it as accessible as possible," said Cottage Health Vice President of Marketing and Population Health, Kathryn Bazylewicz.
In solving the community's needs, Bazylewicz said, one key question needed to be met. "How can we get people here that are isolated, don't have a vehicle or access to a computer?'"
Many of those who thought they would have less access have responded with messages to the hospital staff about their experience. "About every day we have emails and letters to our CEO thanking us," said Bazylewicz.
Paredes called the Cottage Health process "a model for the nation."
For those who do not have a car but walk, take the bus or are on a bike for example, there is a special tent at the Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital site off Patterson, specifically for that group. The staff says, anyone who can get to the location with an appointment, can check in and go through the process.
"I think it will work well for the UCSB students we had about 50 people here yesterday and I think it is another way to make it more accessible to our whole community," said Bazylewicz.
Easy Lift Transportation was created in 1979 as part of the local Easter Seal Society. It incorporated as a nonprofit in 1981.
With this community-wide effort to provide rides for vital needs, "We are being introduced to people we didn't have before," said Paredes.