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WorkinCT: Sunshine Wheels driving through COVID-19 challenges

Because Sunshine Wheels has been so successful, the program has expanded to other nursing homes in the area and assisted living facilities.

FARMINGTON, Conn. — The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way organizations operate and New Horizons in Farmington is no different.

“New Horizons Inc has three divisions, one being New Horizons Village here where we’re a community of individuals with physical disabilities, so obviously we have a vulnerable population with respect to the virus, and so we had to implement a completely new protocol to make sure that the virus certainly didn’t impact the village very much,” said Carol Fitzgerald, CEO of New Horizons Inc.

It also took precautions at its Cherry Brook Healthcare Center, which is a nursing home, and with its Sunshine Wheels program, which provides transportation to its residents and people in the Farmington Valley.  That transportation couldn’t stop because of the pandemic.

“The need is there.  Obviously, people have the same needs for medical treatment, and as I said, our population here specifically have frequent visits to doctors, some are life-sustaining, and so we continued throughout the entire since the pandemic started, there was no lapse in transportation with respect to getting individuals to their medical appointments,” said Fitzgerald.

The fleet of vehicles, including vans and sedans, are only taking one person at a time.  Each vehicle is equipped with shields, everyone wears a mask and special cleaning solutions are used after every transport to keep both the passenger and driver safe.

“The idea is to not have transportation prevent somebody from getting where they need to go,” said Fitzgerald.

Because Sunshine Wheels has been so successful, the program has expanded to other nursing homes in the area and assisted living facilities.  It’s also making its services available to private individuals.

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