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330 seniors get free flu shots at DHM clinic
Manteca Fire Engineer Oscar Castro, left, jokes as he get flu shot from registered nurse Charlene Brown. - photo by HIME ROMERO
There were 330 seniors who took advantage of the free influenza inoculations Friday morning with some sharing stories of their exciting and sometimes adventurous lives.

It was a flu shot clinic that brought part of the senior citizen population of Manteca together under one roof – sponsored free of charge by Doctors Hospital of Manteca.

DHM had 14 of its medical personnel working the clinic at the Manteca Senior Center – volunteering their time in the effort.  The shots cost the hospital some $8 each with a total monetary outlay to the community of about $2,400.

 “The health of the community is important to us and we are continually looking for opportunities to support a healthy community,” said Eric McMurtrey, hospital marketing director.

Shorty Wolf – longtime Manteca Police Seniors Helping Area Residents and Police volunteer – was directing the line of traffic as it snaked its way into the parking lot of the center beginning at 9 a.m.  He said he has been working traffic at the clinic for the last 11 years along with other SHARP members who kept the procession orderly.

Through their efforts motorists were allowed to drive up to the front door of the senior center and drop passengers off with them not having to walk too far.

Asked if he had gotten his flu shot, Shorty said, “I don’t like to get them.  Every time I get them I get sick as a horse.”

Hospital provides
20 years as
dog trainer

DHM Pharmacy Director Katy Marconi said the hospital had prepared for 400 shots to be given in the near three hour time period.  Manteca Senior Center Director John Boore said he has been going to the clinic for the past 15 to 20 years.  With an average of 400 vaccinations a year over that period, the hospital has given as many as 8,000 free to the community.

It was a team of all registered nurses giving the vaccinations on Friday. They were chatting with seniors as they came through their stations.

“The number one question has been, ‘When do we get the N1H1 shots?’” Marconi said.

She noted that the common version of the flu “is a bigger killer than N1H1” – 30,000 to 50,000 are expected to die during the flu season nationwide this year.

“It has been tough to get the flu shots.  We are going to be running out before the end of the year,” she said.  “We need to keep vaccinating through March. But, we are all in the same boat whether it’s Texas, Florida or Philly.”

Marconi said that when the hospital receives the first of its H1N1 vaccine, pregnant women and other high risk members of the community will be called to be first in line to receive inoculations.

She added that many of Doctors’ sister hospitals of the Tenet Corporation throughout the country have had to cancel their community outreach events because they can’t get the vaccine.  There are 12 Tenet hospitals in California and a total of 50 across the country.

Former Joe’s Food Center owner Joe Freitas, and a charter partner of Delta Bank, said he comes to the clinic every year.  He still works 10-15 hours a week at the bank chuckling, “That’s when they catch me.  I did mine – now it’s time to let the young kids shine.”

Alicia Yonemoto worked her wheelchair into the center and up to the shot line with her service dog “Akai” at her side.  The Japanese Akita – German Shepherd mix has been at her side for the last eight years.

She told the story of her late husband rescuing the dog as a puppy along with the rest of a litter he found in a shopping cart outside a Las Vegas grocery store.  They kept Akai and found homes for the other pups.

The Manteca woman said had been a dog trainer for 20 years – a stretch that included training police dogs – when her husband passed away and she was living alone.  A debilitating condition caused the degeneration of disks in her neck that handicapped her and created the need to use a wheel chair.

The dog had not been trained as a service dog when she found herself in the bath tub for three hours unable to get out because of her condition.  Her residence was “locked up like Fort Knox” and she couldn’t get to the phone to call for help.

She said she called the dog continually to come to her aid with it took hours for him to get the door opened and come and stand at her side.  She would put her arms around him while he was standing, and then tell him to “sit” time after time, attempting to use the movement of his body to help her out of the tub.

Yonemoto at last managed to get over the edge of the tub and onto the floor of the bathroom remembering how covered with hair she became in the process – and the dog was exhausted.   It was obvious to her that if she were going to be living alone she needed a “service dog.”  It was then that Akai went into training becoming certified to go anywhere she goes whether it is in a store, a restaurant or on an airplane.
He is often called her “Winnie the Pooh” that “Papa” found abandoned in the shopping cart in Las Vegas.  She said her husband had tracked down the person who had left the puppies so that he could determine their breed.  She is scheduled to be the guest speaker at the noon meeting of the Manteca Rotary Club on Thursday, Dec. 3.

From WWII service to
stint as police reserve

Ed Suchman, 97, was there too to get his flu shot. Even after he retired he was still helping friends digging wells and getting up on roofs doing repairs.

Ed’s daughter Kathy McKinsey is in the marketing department at Doctors Hospital. They have a bond that obviously can’t be broken – their smiles together tell a unique father – daughter story.

Suchman was a member of the San Leandro Police reserves for some 15 years after serving in World War II in the European Theater in Germany, France, Belgium, Norway and England retiring as a sergeant in the MPs.   He later worked for the Highland Hospital as a police officer and served on the San Leandro City Council for 15 years.

He was also tapped to serve on the Alameda County Grand Jury.

In his younger years Ed competed in the Chicago Tribune’s “Silver Skates” competition and came up a winner.  Daughter Kathy remembers ice skating in the Bay Area as a teen when she got stuck out on the ice, and her dad skated out to her like a professional helping her back.

He said he is having a little trouble now with his knees and his back, saying most of that is due to the sports he played as a teen and later as an adult in recreation football and baseball – in the positions of center and catcher.