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St. Mary's Outreach Center helping seniors make COVID vaccination appointments online

Helping senior citizens become computer savvy
isolated seniors
Posted at 9:36 AM, Feb 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-10 10:21:34-05

BALTIMORE, Md. — Getting an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccine has become next to impossible for most people.

Officials say the best way to get your name on the list for the vaccine is to go online but that's not necessarily the easiest way for senior citizens.

St. Mary's Outreach Center in Hampden offers tech support for those who need it.

Some seniors aren't able to afford a computer or internet service while others don't know how to use a laptop of go online.

Making an appointment to get the COVID-19 vaccine can be frustrating for seniors who live alone or don't have tech savvy grandkids to help them out.

St. Mary's Outreach Center case manager Fred Gorman said “these folks have been stuck at home, they don't get to see their family. They might get to talk to them for a little bit each week or each month and then to try and get the vaccines that they've been promised. They have to pretty much find someone that can do it for them a lot of the time.”

That’s where Gorman comes in to help. To keep things safe, he conducts any face-to-face meetings with clients behind Plexiglass.

“It's a safe space, we keep it clean. And, we keep everybody separated, because our clients really are the most vulnerable to getting COVID,” Gorman said.

Gorman avoids face-to-face meetings whenever possible. He also tries to help seniors make appointments for any services they need over the phone but even that comes with a challenge

“The difficulty of that is, a lot of our clients have lifeline phones, which have limited minutes on them. So, I can't talk to them for very long because I'll use up their whole monthly allotment,” Gorman said.

“It's difficult for them to advocate for themselves in that manner as well, because a lot of the organizations that we call, you're on hold for an hour before you get to talk to somebody,” Gorman added.

There are some seniors who prefer to learn how to get online on their own.

“I love it when I can teach an elder to be computer savvy. Unfortunately, with the COVID restrictions, we're not able to right now, so essentially, I’ll do it for them,” Gorman said.

It's something Gorman is used to considering his 15 years of experience teaching people how to navigate the internet.

“It can be very frustrating. It takes a lot of patience, a lot of trial and error, but I find often that the client is less patient than I am, so I just work with them to their strengths,” Gorman said.

Gorman also will set up a document exchange with people so seniors can get their paperwork to him in case they need any extra help filling out any applications online.

All services rendered in-person or over the phone are free of charge.

Contact St. Mary's Outreach Center at 410-366-3106.