NORTHAMPTON, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- The COVID-19 vaccination process at the Eastfield Mall has gained national news attention after footage showed the elderly waiting hours in the elements for their shot.
Now, a local business is stepping in to alleviate some of the pressures of waiting in line on foot, providing a resource they already had at their disposal.
Hometown Healthcare Store in Northampton is a small, family owned and operated business.
"We've been in business here for thirteen years,” said Eddie Tapanes, owner of Hometown Healthcare.
Tapanes told Western Mass News that his father contracted coronavirus at a nursing home and thankfully made a full recovery, but these personal ties to the dangers COVID-19 presents, in addition to recent events, left him in search of a way to give back.
After witnessing the harsh conditions, the elderly were braving while waiting hours outside to receive their COVID-19 vaccine, Tapanes felt a responsibility to take action.
“I wanted to do something for them and I figured...Why not have a wheelchair rental program? In order for them to wait for their vaccine, they don't have to stand and wait, so if somebody is taking care of somebody or taking them to a vaccine, they can wheel them there and they can be seated while they're doing it,” Tapanes explained.
The best part about it? It comes at zero cost.
"All with no charge and we sanitize everything before they pick it up and we sanitize it after they return it as well…so they'll be getting a fresh, clean chair after every use,” Tapanes explained.
The second-best part is the flexibility. Simply call the store and you can arrange to pick up a chair the day before your appointment and return it the day after.
“So, up to three days of no fee for them to use the rental,” Tapanes noted.
So far, the response has been small, but there is no shortage of resources.
Tapanes hopes to spread the word so that more can take advantage. During difficult times, he's watched the communities around him rally to support one another.
"…And this is our little part of doing it,” Tapanes said.