Small counties across the nation have struggled with providing safe and efficient vaccination sites. Not so in Allegany County, thanks to a family and business with a long history of major contributions to the local community. Donating the use of the Riverwalk Plaza and the “old Kmart” building to the Allegany County Health Department for a mass vaccination and testing site could be the most important of all.
As Mayor Randy Shayler put it plainly, “This is an amazing and historic community service from the LCW crew. I don’t know what the local vaccination effort would have looked like without Riverwalk stepping up”.
Theresa Moore, the Allegany County Health Department Public Information Officer, had this to say about being provided access to the plaza and building:
“Neither Allegany County or the Department of Health are being charged anything to use the Kmart site. This is a great site for us for many reasons: Large size space so large numbers can be vaccinated or tested; on bus route for ACCESS Allegany; in Wellsville which is largest village/population in Allegany County; did I mention FREE to the taxpayer and had electric, heat, air water, bathrooms, and parking. The Allegany County Department of Health would like to thank L.C. Whitford and River Walk for the use of the space for the COVID-19 rapid testing and vaccination clinics. This has been a tremendous service they have provided to the health department and the residents of Allegany County.”
You read that right folks, as the Riverwalk is clearly losing major revenue on an empty 100,000 square foot space, they used that space to make a major community contribution. Other small counties in New York report that mass vaccination and testing sites have been impossible because the cost of short-term lease agreements was prohibitive.
When Allegany County asked, LCW provided exactly what was needed for the masses of senior citizens rushing to be vaccinated explains Anita Mattison, Director of The Office of The Aging:
“The ability to use a location that is accessible for older adults with ample parking has been a benefit to Allegany County residents and their ability to receive the vaccine locally. The collaboration between the hospitals, the pharmacies, the Dept. Of Health and the community partners has made it possible to get older adults and the community vaccinated without having to travel too far.”
The Riverwalk Plaza vaccination and testing site has hosted over a dozen clinics, both rapid-testing and vaccination. With hundreds of rapid tests provided and nearly 6000 vaccines administered to-date, the scope of this generosity can be hard to grasp. If we just consider the vaccinations, how many of those 6000 residents would have been seriously ill or deceased today had they not been administered a vaccine?
While that number may not be easy to actualize, we know that this team effort between the public and private sector saved many lives. When asked about that generosity, company executive Daniel Whitford had this to say:
“We’ve been very happy to provide the space for the county clinics. It was nice to see the parking lot full and the building being used for something that benefits us all.”
When asked about the future of the space, Whitford noted that “Riverwalk still continues to seek a tenant for the space. In the meantime, we are happy to help use the space to get people vaccinated!!”