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Lost and found: Community helps nurse locate stolen bike

When Kat Balsimo came out to her vehicle Saturday night after a grueling 15-hour shift as health coordinator at North Hawaii Community Hospital, her bike — her means of escaping the stress and realities of being a nurse amid the COVID-19 pandemic — had been swiped.

Hanging on the back of her van in its place: a “rinky dink” bike — much too small for the 58-year-old who commutes from South Kona to Waimea.

“It was like they traded it; it was like a little trick bike. I honestly just had to laugh,” Balsimo said, noting she returned back to the hospital’s emergency room and at the suggestion of staff made a police report.

At the urging of her husband, Balsimo decided to seek help via social media, asking members of the Facebook group “Big Island Thieves” to “help a girl out” in finding her beloved bike. Yes, it is just a bike, and an entry-level one at that, but it had many miles and memories since she bought in 2014, taking it as far away as the East Coast when she did a stint as a traveling nurse.

The response from the community, she said, was overwhelming. From people offering up their own two wheels and cash to corporations wanting to provide her with a brand new bike. Others shared the post, hoping someone might see the blue bike with white writing, saddle bags and more.

“I feel like she’s going to come back to me and that’s really all the only reason I put that post out there so that she would be found and I’m confident that she will be,” Balsimo said.

And sure enough, tips came in. First a sighting in Hilo and then in Puna. And less than 20 hours after asking for help, not long after speaking with West Hawaii Today, Balsimo got good news that the bike was in the hands of her own nephew.

“I posted that 19 hours ago on Big Island Thieves. It took 17-19 hours to find my bike. All because of the communities efforts. Unbelievable,” Balsimo said Monday evening before taking a nap ahead of her next shift. “My heart is full.”

The coming together of the community to find her bike is something Balsimo hopes — and believes — can occur in regard to getting the eligible population vaccinated against COVID-19. It’s especially important as the number of COVID cases rises on the island and hospital beds fill.

“If we all come together — like for my bike — we will have a resolution. We will have a good outcome,” she said. “We have to come together, like we have too, this is not political.”

The nurse emphasized the FDA’s full approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine Monday, urging residents to be informed and get inoculated as soon as possible. North Hawaii Community Hospital in Waimea offers vaccinations free without appointment from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays.

“We show up, we’re here everyday were sacrificing so much literally to keep people alive and safe,” she said. “Don’t let us do this in vain — if people are eligible to get vaccinated, please do it.”

On Monday, 62% of the state’s eligible population 12 and older was fully vaccinated for COVID-19. The Big Island had a lower rate of vaccination with 58% of residents fully inoculated.

For more information on getting the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna or single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, including retail sites to get inoculated, visit https://hawaiicovid19.com/vaccine.

A host of County of Hawaii-supported vaccination sites are planned this week on the Big Island:

• From noon to 4 p.m. today at Aupuni Center in Hilo. Premier Medical Group is providing Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. No pre-registration required.

• From noon to 4 p.m. Thursday at Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium in Hilo. KTA Super Stores is providing Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. No pre-registration required.

• From 3 to 6 p.m. Thursday at Patel’s Gas Station in Honaunau. Premier Medical Group is providing Pfizer and Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. No pre-registration required.

• From 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Thursday at Hamakua-Kohala Health in Honokaa. Hamakua Kohala Health is providing Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. No pre-registration required.

• From 1 to 6 p.m. Friday at Fujihara Store in Honaunau. Premier Medical Group is providing Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. No pre-registration required.

• From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday at Hale Hoola Apartments in Hilo. Premier Medical Group is providing Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. No pre-registration required.

• From 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Friday at Hamakua-Kohala Health in Honokaa. Hamakua Kohala Health is providing Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. No pre-registration required.

• From 2 to 4:30 p.m. Friday at Hamakua-Kohala Health in North Kohala (53-3925 Akoni Pule Highway). Hamakua Kohala Health is providing Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. No pre-registration required.

• From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Hilo Lanes in Hilo. Premier Medical Group is providing Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. No pre-registration required.

• From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at Kona International Market in Kailua-Kona. Premier Medical Group is providing Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. No pre-registration required.

• From noon to 4 p.m. Saturday at Waimea District Park in Waimea. KTA Super Stores is providing Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. No pre-registration required.

• From 9 a.m. to noon Saturday in Ocean View, Ka‘u. Ka‘u Rural Health is providing Pfizer and Moderna and vaccines. No pre-registration required.

• From 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at West Hawaii Civic Center in Kailua-Kona. Premier Medical Group is providing Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. No pre-registration required.

Note: No vaccination clinics are planned for Sunday
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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