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Meet Gwen: vaccinated in Ohio

The Partnership provided training and resources to the Ohio Department of Health; and Ohio delivered COVID-19 vaccines to hundreds of thousands of Ohioans with disabilities, like Gwen.

"When I first called to schedule my vaccine, I was expecting an appointment far in the future," says Gwen Riechmann, a Cincinnati resident. "I ended up calling on a Friday night, literally 5 minutes before they were closing for the evening. I figured they wouldn't answer. They did, were absolutely helpful, and had a wide-open schedule. They had flexible appointments, so I was able to schedule in the evening, to accommodate my driver's schedule. I got an evening appointment for the following Friday evening."

Gwen is a retired special education teacher, and current Vice President of US Thalidomide Survivors, an American advocacy group for which she shoulders a lot of responsibility. She prioritizes her health and safety, and was glad the Ohio Department of Health does, too. She found the nurses knowledgeable and helpful, and disability-savvy. They asked the right questions, offered her the correct amount of assistance, and the site had easy access.

“The Ohio Department of Health contracted with The Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies as we began setting up COVID-19 mass vaccination sites across the state," says David Ellsworth, Health Services Policy Specialist from Ohio's Department of Health. His department had tuned in to the urgent need to ensure that these sites were fully accessible, and that any barriers to access could be addressed quickly and efficiently. And in a crisis, who better to attend to needs and rights of disabled people, but The Partnership.

"The Partnership was able to create a comprehensive Vaccine Site Access Checklist, a Consolidated Checklist, and Just-In-Time training on how to apply these tools in a manner that met our specifications for use at these locations," David explained.

Gwen is busy. She is "Mom" to two young shelties who take a lot of her day with their training schedules, as well as two cats; she lives independently; she conducts weekly Zoom meetings for her various committee duties; and is planning a conference for her organization in August. The vaccine and her booster were high on her list of priorities. Ohio made it easy for her to have access to life-saving vaccines. And Ohio credits The Partnership with ensuring Ohio was prepared to serve the disability community.

For more information on how The Partnership can assist your state or organization with equitable distribution of the vaccine, or disaster preparedness, contact us today, browse our website, or check out our catalog of services.


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