While senior citizens have been identified as the group most likely to lose their life to a Covid-19 infection, many also lack the technical ability to book vaccine appointments online or stay up for hours monitoring and reloading web pages, hoping for an appointment.
Seaside Park will soon become the second town in New Jersey to offer special help to its senior population, creating a program based off one developed by Sea Isle City. A borough resident with a family member in Sea Isle proposed the idea, which was endorsed by the borough council at its meeting last Thursday. The project will be led by Joseph Toth, the borough’s director of recreation, who also serves as a social studies teacher at Central Regional High School.
“You have to be up in the middle of the night to get your name on a list,” said Toth, relaying the hardships seniors face in even trying to get an appointment to receive the vaccine, despite their eligibility. Toth spoke with his counterparts in Sea Isle City and then proposed the program, which would consist of direct help through a hotline or other means, in Seaside Park.
“We bounced around some ideas – we have very similar communities, but we don’t have the same level of staffing as them,” Toth said.
The lack of staffing means the hotline would be open only to senior citizens who are permanent residents of Seaside Park.
“We can act as a go-between so they do not have to go through the stress and rigamarole of registering themselves,” said Toth. “We’re not storing any private healthcare information or anything like that. It would be stored in the state’s database. The only thing we would keep on file is the name and phone number of the residents to keep track and make sure they get their appointments.”
Councilman Ray Amabile was the first to endorse the idea.
“I’m not too computer literate, and if it wasn’t for my wife I wouldn’t be able to do half of these things,” he said.
Councilwoman Faith Ligouri suggested Toth could, potentially, lean on some of his students at Central Regional to help as volunteers.
“I love the idea and I just think, if we have enough time, it would be a nice opportunity for kids to see how government works and help some people at the same time,” Ligouri said.
Toth, after receiving an endorsement from the entire governing body, said he hopes the program can be launched as early as sometime this week.