Downtown Concerned Citizens Organization

‘The whole thing is a mess’

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It took more than 500 phone calls by three family members over two days to finally get 99-year-old Evelyn Shipperfield her first COVID-19 vaccine appointment.

Even so, her daughter, Kathryn AuCoin, said that won’t happen until March 29.

“That’s the best we can do,” she said recently.

Her mom will turn 100 on Sept. 8.

Although Shipperfield is in an Etobicoke seniors-mandated apartment building with supports provided by an outside agency, her daughter said she was informed by the building management in a March 13 letter that Toronto and Ontario public health officials did not deem the building a “priority” for an on-site clinic.

The letter’s author, Koula Karagiorgaki, executive director of Humbervale Chrisitian Outreach Foundation where Shipperfield resides, couldn’t be reached for comment.

But AuCoin said it makes no sense because the average age of the building’s residents is between 82 and 83.

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“It is clearly a senior’s building … owned by a non-profit,” she said.

“It fell through the cracks,” she added, noting she doubts it is the only such building in Toronto.

“If you rent an apartment or are in your own home, you’re being penalized,” AuCoin said.

She said when the family heard that Humber River Hospital was being added as a vaccination site, three of them spent two days the week of March 8 on the phone, finally landing her mom that March 29 appointment.

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She added that one can’t get through to the city’s mass clinics and on March 16 the LHIN for the area called AuCoin’s sister to say clinics were coming, but they didn’t have any dates.

The great irony is that her mom’s 75-year-old niece, who lives in the same building and will take Shipperfield to the hospital for the vaccine, got a spot in a City of Toronto mass clinic on Thursday.

“Think of people who don’t have any family,” she said. “It’s so sad (what’s going on) with anyone over 80, especially if the government really considers them vulnerable.”

City of Toronto officials indicated Monday they have reached out to 40 senior-serving organizations, earmarking up to $10,000 to redeploy staff who can reach clients and help with booking of appointments.

Agencies serving targeted populations, including Indigenous, black and south Asian communities — as well as  Hispanic, Tamil, Korean and LGBTQ seniors — were given special consideration, according to the city’s s COVID-19 vaccination update.

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