Lake Twp. Officer's help with senior's vaccinations acknowledged

Larry Limpf

The efforts of the Lake Township Community Policing Officer to assist senior citizens get vaccinated for the coronavirus haven’t gone unnoticed.
Following local coverage of Ron Craig and the help he’s provided for area seniors, news outlets and websites in other cities and states have aired stories on his work.
And on Feb. 23, a CNN news crew was at the township police station for about 1 ½ hours to interview him.
“The producer said they watch local news, looking for positive police stories,” Craig said after the crew had left.
As of Wednesday, he’s helped about 200 residents, many of them members of the township’s neighborhood watch program, wade through the pre-vaccination paperwork and get the shots.
It was the frustration of those residents that led him to try to do something.
“I regularly contact my neighborhood watch members during the COVID pandemic, keep an eye on people to see if they need any groceries or supplies and then drop them off on their porches,” Craig said. “For one woman I even took gas cans from my garage and filled her car up for her. She had had eye surgery in Columbus and was so afraid of contracting COVID she didn’t want to stop and get gas.
“In calling around about five or six weeks ago several people told me they were having trouble getting appointments for vaccinations. When Chief (Mark) Hummer got wind of this he gave me the green light to do whatever I could. The first two weeks I was doing what the government was telling everybody to do. Check websites several times a day and call 2-1-1, the United Way. I was getting the same result as everybody else. If I did find an opening somewhere online by the time you got the person’s name, address, phone number, date of birth entered, the spot was gone. When I called the 2-1-1 number I would get a message to call back later. I realized then this isn’t working. I’ve got to switch gears.”
He then contacted his pharmacist at the Walgreens store in Perrysburg and explained what he was trying to do. She said the store’s vaccination supply was depleted and referred him to the Walgreens in Bowling Green. The pharmacist at the BG store said there were 30 slots open the following week that could be reserved if Craig could put together a spreadsheet with the names, addresses and other required data.
“I couldn’t put the spreadsheet together fast enough,” Craig said. “I had it done in about two hours.”
A week later he contacted the Wood County Health Department and was told there were about 50 slots open at a distribution planned for the senior center in the Village of Walbridge.
“Again I got a list together and emailed it to the health department,” he said.
With more than 100 residents still trying to find a slot, Craig floated a proposal to the health department to let him organize a vaccination clinic. He then secured permission from Mainstreet Church in Moline for the site.
The clinic was held Feb. 17 with 10 slots every 15 minutes being serviced.
“The health department allowed me to fill nine of the 10 slots with my people,” Craig said. “What a tremendous response we got from the Lake Township residents there. Obviously this is not something that is a law enforcement function. But as a community policing officer I’m hearing my neighborhood watch members tell me how frustrated they are. Many don’t have computers or internet access or email so they had to rely on calling 2-1-1. But they weren’t getting anywhere with that. Even those with internet saw the slots were gone by the time they had filled in their data. The slots were filling that fast.”
With the extensive news coverage, Craig is receiving words of appreciation from near and far. He received a thank you note from a resident of Cocoa Beach, Florida, who wrote that her son was a law enforcement officer.
A township resident also sent a thank you card with a donation of $100 that will go to the Lake Township Police Officers Association fund that is used for charitable projects.
Craig estimates about 70 to 80 local senior residents are still trying to get appointments.
“I’ll try to help out as much as I can,” he said.

Editor’s note: Officer Craig said he was informed by a CNN producer the interview will be shown sometime between 7:45 a.m. and 9 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 26.


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