Redesigned walkers and wheelchairs fill in the gaps created by supply chain problems.

DENVER – Michele Lujan needs a wheelchair for her 52 -year -old husband who is being treated at the hospital with covid -19. But he lost his job, and the money was hard. The insurance did not cover the cost, and he did not know how to use the purchase to fulfill a short -term benefit. So he turned to a loan not far from his home in downtown Denver Highlands Ranch.

In the South Metro Medical Equipment Loan Closet, sticks are mounted from the walls, scooter elbows are lined up on the floor, and bath chairs and toilet seats are filled from the shelves. He has a wheelchair that he can borrow for free.

“I don’t know any other doctors who have them,” Lujan said.

Hardware re -uses programs like this to collect, clean, and deliver supplies – often without paying the creditor. They range in size from small homes to community churches to large state programs such as the Foundation for Rehabilitation Equipment and Endowment, or FREE, which has given about 5,000 workers to thousands of people. low -income youth and seniors in Virginia last year.

These programs keep medical costs low and untreated, and by reorganizing the drugs used, they keep them out of the country. During the course of illness, the programs have also helped to minimize the impact of chain -related deficiencies and are helping to meet the high demand at the outset. election services.

“When elective surrgeries hospitals re-emerged, demand increased significantly,” said Donna Ralston, who founded the South Metro Medical Equipment Loan Closet six years ago in a 10-foot building. -by-10-feet in his church.

Today, the charity’s store doors are open by selecting those in need and recovering from surgery, illness, or injury. “Often, we lend supplies to patients who wait two months to get them from their insurance provider,” said the company’s president, Pat Benhmida. “We often fill in these gaps.”

Aside from the delay in insurance, hospitals in the United States reported that there were not enough walkers, crutches, crutches, and wheelchairs. Supplies are limited due to a lack of raw materials such as aluminum, said Alok Baveja, a specialist in equipment economics at Rutgers Business School in New Jersey.

“Availability, not just cost, has an impact on the sustainable pharmaceutical industry,” Baveja said.

The crunch will be made worse by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, said Colin Milligan, a spokesman for the American Medical Association.

Aluminum prices have more than doubled in the past two years, up more than 20% in the past six months on the London Metal Exchange. A bill passed in Congress April 7 to cut normal trade relations with Russia would allow President Joe Biden to raise prices on aluminum and imports from that country, raising prices. aluminum.

Baveja said one color of the re -used disease had received approval and use.

Last September and in January, hospitals in southwest Virginia delayed discharging patients due to a lack of walkers and bed rest, and they found the backlogs of patients in the emergency room account for most of the hospital beds, said Robin Ramsey, director of FREE, a nonprofit organization.

Ramsey said that for weeks, FREE was the only provider that had walkers and sleeping pads on hand. “In the short term, we see that people with insurance, can buy a pedestrian, can’t get one,” Ramsey said.

Woman dressed in trash looks at rows of pedestrians and wheelchairs

A group of local physical therapists at the Foundation for Rehabilitation Equipment and Endowment in Virginia Beach donated on World PT Day. (Robin Ramsey)

Jan Kupidluvsky uses equipment technology on a pressure steamer to clean a wheelchair at the Foundation for Rehabilitation Equipment and Endowment in Salem, Virginia. (Robin Ramsey)

Each state has funding to provide technology to assist people with disabilities as part of the Federal Assistive Technology Act of 1998. New technology and equipment can be introduced. The projects are re -used by donations and equipment, and a team of volunteers often inspects, cleans, and repairs wheels, cars, boxes, tires, and other parts. .

FOR FREE, more than 100 volunteers and 12 employees last year received 10,000 pieces of donated equipment, and 6,500 were redesigned for reuse, Ramsey said.

Elliot Sloyer, founder of a Stamford, Connecticut, nonprofit called Wheel It Forward, said patients and their families often pay out of pocket for medications. longer, especially with high -end health insurance plans. “Medicare, insurance doesn’t cover a lot of people. They’re complicated,” he said.

New drug use programs provide significant and valuable value to communities, Ramsey said. But, he says, some people don’t know about these programs until they need them.

Local agencies such as Great Lakes Loan Closets re -use programs in Michigan, Wisconsin, northern Indiana, and northern Illinois. Wheel It Forward plans to launch the nation’s first index of around 700 new medical use programs.

Now, programs like FREE are also used to maintain the database and repair the medical supplies provided.

“There are times, more than anything that has happened in the last couple of years, when workers come in and go out on the same day,” Ramsey said. “It’s very important.”

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