Vaccine roll out not perfect but county officials trying

By Lacey Cruz, originally published in The Active Age, link

Lacey Cruz

Dear Seniors,

The abundance of information around vaccines is confusing and hard to follow. I know there is a problem, and I want you to know there is an entire team of public servants working to administer vaccines we received. We are working for our community so everyone can get back to a life filled with connection. 

Connecting with others keeps us alive. In all my years spent advocating for seniors, the most important lesson I learned was that loss of connection and social isolation is the number one killer of older adults. 

From a very young age, I have had a strong connection to older adults. When I was 10 years old, I broke my hip. For almost a year, I was in and out of the hospital and doctor’s appointments. On crutches and learning to walk again, I missed an entire summer of friends and softball. I remember the isolation was almost unbearable. A lot like the isolation some are feeling now. 

I’ll never forget, my doctor said, “You broke your hip? Isn‘t that something that happens to old people?” 

A few years after breaking my hip, I started volunteering at Elmhaven West, a local nursing home in my hometown. I loved that place.

Before I became a commissioner, for the better part of my career, my days were spent helping seniors maintain their independence. That time spent working in senior care taught me a great deal about what is most important in life. 

Many people, mostly seniors, have reached out to me for answers and guidance. Some have expressed frustration and some excitement. Recently, a woman asked me “When are you going to advocate for seniors?” 

Our nation, unfortunately, is on different timetables when it comes to vaccine distribution. Some 50-year-old individuals have already received the vaccine around the nation while others in their 70s here locally are still waiting. It’s beyond frustrating. 

Many in our community are anxious to receive this vaccine no matter the age. But for seniors, the urgency feels different. Many seniors have been living in total isolation with perhaps very little physical connection at all. We have got to move quicker.

For those seniors lucky enough to have access and a desire to use technology, the isolation may be tempered and scheduling appointments for vaccines may be easier. But for many seniors who don’t care to use computers or don’t have access to technology and want to schedule appointments on the phone, a better option needs to be provided. We recognize that and have been working to make it easier to schedule an appointment by phone. 

Battling this for almost a year, we are all tired. We understand the information coming from your local health department is overwhelming and sometimes confusing. For that, I personally apologize. But I’m writing today to tell you, we are working to provide the best possible care to the residents of this community. Public servants are doing everything in their power to administer the vaccines we receive as quickly as possible. 

For those who continue to have questions or concerns, please reach out to me personally. Thank you for your patience as we work through this health crisis together. You are not alone. 

Lacey Cruse is Sedgwick County Commissioner for District IV. Contact Lacey at print

This article was republished here with the permission of: The Active Age