I can ask anyone for anything when it means that I can help someone that does not have a voice or if it’s for the right thing. I never do it in a pushy, nasty way. I do ask with appreciation and gratitude in my voice, always giving the person I’m asking the comfort of no pressure.
Friday, Jan. 22, at 8 a.m. seemed like such a day of hope for so many people that were considered eligible for Phase 1B of the COVID-19 vaccination process. That was to include those over 65 and those under 65 with two or more major health issues. The process was simple for the majority but not for all.
What should have been an easy win turned into quite a nightmare. Nightmare might seem like too strong of a word, but if you are in that small group of our New Hampshire family that “slipped through the cracks” it became a nightmare.
For many of our seniors, who were counting the minutes to 8 a.m. on Friday with hope, they were horribly disappointed. Disappointment is OK when resources are available to right the wrongs. In this case for probably 5% of everyone trying to register for their vaccination, yes there were answers but each one proved to be an endless circle or worse, a dead end.
If you didn’t have a computer to register with, you were faced with an even bigger problem. You were told to call 2-1-1, which I appreciate and have written to you about before, but using them as a lifeline in a major pandemic made for hours of busy signals or being put on hold. We are better than that here in New Hampshire.
The way I see it there are two groups that we didn’t plan well for: The nearest and dearest to my heart our seniors and our homeless population too. Maybe I missed it, but what were you supposed to do if you weren’t computer savvy? So many of our towns rushed in to try and help those who were left out in the cold.
Dr. Bart Quirinale was one of these seniors in Phase 1B so looking forward to that date to register. Bart, at 87, is more computer savvy than most of us and as I often say he is “sharp as a tack.” His priority for the last 40 years has been to care for others. Bart visited his patients' homes, headed into his office on the weekend if needed, and his patients came first always.
Dr. Quirinale always thought that he would practice well into his 70s, but life threw him an unexpected curveball. He was so busy making sure his patients had cancer screenings that he never made time for himself to be checked. He waited a little too long, and when he did make time, he was shocked to learn that he had cancer. There are no words. Years of treatment led to him having to give up the life he loved serving his patients.
Bart, at 87, after doing everything right, received that long-awaited email. It read soon you will receive an email giving you a code that you have one hour to use to schedule your vaccination appointment. Many other emails came, but never that one.
I did my best to knock on every door I could. Our governor’s office, many times, 2-1-1, such nice people when they could answer after long waits — but it felt to me as though we were simply dogs chasing our tails. Everyone’s heart was in the right place, they were sincerely trying to help, but there just wasn’t a plan for the exceptions.
My fear became that, for our seniors in this situation and there were many, the worry of not receiving and waiting for a code was causing more stress and harm to their health than maybe contracting COVID would.
After too many dead ends, again with so many great people trying, I reached out to our own WMUR. God bless them for all they do for our great state! They read my emails and reached out to see how they could help.
An amazing up and coming news reporter Jessica Moran asked if she could interview me via Zoom. She listened and when I suggested Dr. Quirinale was the person they should be talking to, she agreed. Suddenly people listened.
Dr. Quirinale’s interview tugged at our heartstrings. It wasn’t what he expected either. WMUR gave him and all seniors a voice. Bart became emotional as he described to Jessica what he had experienced, the endless waiting, and no solutions for many over the age of 80. Bart’s testimony touched hearts throughout the state.
At one point Dr. Quirinale said, “I’m not asking for special treatment, I’m just asking for treatment.” Suddenly, the next morning an appointment was set.
This is the amazing part. Over the next 24 hours, so many wonderful people reached out to me saying how much Dr. Quirinale had touched their hearts and that his testimony and passion would never be forgotten.
Jessica said in one of her texts, “He is why we do this work, to bring attention and hopefully help!”
Dr. Bart Quirinale received his vaccination Sunday at 11:30 a.m. Please let me know if you need help, you are not in this alone.
Sherry Farrell is the Londonderry Town Clerk and a longtime resident of New Hampshire.