REDWOOD CITY (KPIX 5) — A one-of-its-kind vaccination clinic was held Saturday in Redwood City. It was designed to be accessible for those with developmental disabilities and, for family members and caregivers, it was a long-awaited opportunity.
“A lot of times it’s a mass vaccination. Children or adults who have disabilities take longer,” said parent Jocelyn Kaw. “They just get left out.”
“If you don’t fall into the 90 percentile, oftentimes you get left behind,” agreed Diane Thompson, who brought her son.
It was a clinic for those who may not have had any other practical option. Dignity Health, with a team of partners, reached out to the special-needs community, trying to find those who might have challenges at a typical vaccination site.
“When you have a special-needs child, there’s a lot of challenges even getting them into a medical facility,” said Steve Rattie, who brought his daughter from Santa Cruz.
“He is so big,” Kaw said of her son. “He’s autistic. Anything is hard — dental procedures — everything is hard.”
So the plan Saturday was to be flexible. Some patients were best met in their cars. Others were taken inside, where a number of different rooms were set up to provide a comfortable, calming space.
“We have created a whole program around quiet rooms, a number of sensory-friendly toys such as balls and bright colors,” explained Dr. Dieter Bruno, chief medical officer at Sequoia Hospital. “Low light to not overstimulate them and that’s been really helpful.”
“The staff was just so patient and understanding of the situation,” Rattie said. “Without them it wouldn’t have happened.”
“It helps having some people that have experience with special needs,” said team member Gail Ewell of Hope Technology School. “It helps the parents. It helps the patients.”
And they made it work right down to the day’s last visitor, every shot a lesson in patience and care.
“In the world of special needs you don’t always see people reaching out and stepping out and taking that extra step to meet somebody where they’re at,” Thompson said. “That’s what happened here today and that’s why I’ll be forever grateful for it.”
A similar clinic will be held at the same location in Redwood City on June 12.