Looking forward to a happy & healthy 2021

I hope that this column, the last one for 2020, finds you happy and healthy and looking forward to a brand new year. For everyone at The O’Neill Center and Belpre Senior Center, we continue to count our blessings and look forward with hope to that time when we get to see all of our beloved seniors in person again.

Pending any changes on the state level regarding how senior centers are able to operate during the pandemic, we will return to in-person activities at our Marietta location after the first of the year. We’ve been missing you as much as you’ve been missing us. So let’s cross our fingers and toes that everything starts moving in the right direction!

A lot of our critical services have been continuing, however, with our main focus being the safety of our seniors and our staff. Keeping everyone healthy has been a huge priority over these past couple months and as we move into colder weather. Thanks to a CARES Act grant through Buckeye Hills Regional Council and the Ohio Department of Transportation, we were able to purchase fogging machines and sanitizing solution for our fleet of vans and buses. The vehicles are heavily cleaned on a weekly basis, sometimes daily as COVID-19 cases increase in the county. This is so necessary because this year alone we have served 503 seniors and produced 14,789 trips. Our transportation services are literally a lifeline to many seniors in the county.

For example, if you or a loved one find you are: without a vehicle; with no one to help you get to medical appointments; canceling medical appointments because you don’t have a ride; asking family members to leave work to take you to medical appointments; or wheelchair bound and don’t have a handicap accessible vehicle, you may benefit from our Medical Transportation Service. This service is available to those aged 60 and above who reside in private dwellings in Washington County. Our specially trained drivers offer door-to-door service in our comfortable vans which are equipped to accommodate those with special mobility needs.

Reservations are required and can be made Monday through Friday by calling the Transportation Coordinator at 740-373-3914. You may also contact the Coordinator by filling out the Medical Transportation Request Form on our website, oneillcenter.com. We prefer as much notice as possible and operate on a first come, first served basis. O’Neill Center cannot provide transportation in emergency situations.

As we delve deeper into the winter months, we also keep an eye on the weather. Our Adult Day Center transportation services follow guidelines from the Ohio Highway Patrol and look to local school closures as a guide. If a senior is in need of transportation to a medical appointment, the drivers use discretion and err on the side of caution. Safety, safety, safety is our number one priority.

We wish you good health in 2021 and, as your community senior center, we will do all we can to keep our seniors Healthy, Independent and Productive (H.I.P.!) in the New Year. Cheers!

Erin O’Neill is Development Coordinator for The O’Neill Center, located at 333 Fourth St. in Marietta.