Lower income as well as uninsured individuals can get assistance from a free Medical Loan Closet. There are a number of agencies that provide either new and/or gently used equipment to qualified individuals. A medical loan closet is also very effective at provide free supplies as well as equipment to the disabled, seniors citizens, as well as their caregivers.
All sorts of items may be provided. There may be crutches, wheelchairs, canes, beds, grab bars, drop arm commodes, transport beds, and much more. Different charities also operate these assistance programs. There may be medical equipment loan closets located at organizations such as Goodwill, a local church, Salvation Army thrift stores, and other locations. Note while these centers do exist, they will not be as common as some other types of facilities.
Patients that are struggling with paying for their health care needs are big users of these centers. They can often borrow items (or maybe buy one at an affordable price) that is not paid for by their Medicaid, health insurance plans, or Medicare.
There will be an application that is needed. During this process be sure to bring proof of income as well as confirmation of insurance. If the applicant is on Medicaid or if they are a senior/disabled and on Medicare, this information should be brought as well. Borrowing more expensive items, including beds or wheelchairs, may have a more stringent application process then something that is more common, including crutches.
Depending on many factors, including the health care condition of the applicant, their income, and availability of items, the medical items will be loaned out for a defined period of time. As an example, a wheelchair may be given out for a few weeks until the person can graduate to crutches or walk again. Beds may be given out for a longer term basis, and some of those may even be sold to the client if they want to buy it. Different items, including shower chairs or benches, may also be given out for different lengths of time. All of this will depend on the exact circumstances of the applicant.
In almost all instances, a charity run Medical Loan Closet is free to use. But some of the non-profits may either request (or appreciate) a small donation from the client. This is generally the case at Goodwill or other thrift store locations, including the Salvation Army. As any funds given to these groups can help operate operating costs of the organization. But in general, there is no cost to use a medical loan closet, with free stuff often given to the elderly or disabled.
There will always be some items that are more limited and difficult to get. This is true for particular the bigger items, including transport beds or commode toilets. These tend to be bulkier and more expensive to acquire, so donated equipment is harder to get. Or even if they are available, an agency such as Goodwill or a local church may limit the amount of time that a client can borrow those goods.
One major benefit of using a free medical loan closet is it allows individuals the ability to test the items. So before a lower income households pays a significant amount of money for walkers, wheelchairs, lift chairs, or something else, they can apply to borrow some supplies. Then they can take that equipment or adaptive devices and use them for a short period of time. If they like it then maybe the closet will even sell them the item at an affordable price. Or they can apply for financial assistance from one of these closets to help them pay for what they need, as there are interest free disability loans available.
The inventory will always change, often on a weekly basis. A charity or church may have some adaptive technology items one week, but not the following. So applicants can always check back in. Or they can also ask to be put onto a waiting list. Generally what is more commonly given out may be wheelchairs (manual, pediatric as well as power units), crutches, walkers, sit to stand chairs, wipes, lift chairs, hospital beds, canes, bath or hygiene items, and more. Some even have CPAP and BiPAP machines, bed protection pads, Oxygen concentrators, or free diabetic supplies.
A Medical Loan Closet relies on the community for donations as well. Without the support of others, they would not be able to operate. So there are hospitals, dental practices, and stores that contribute Durable Medical Equipment so that low income individuals as well as the under-served can get what they need. Many of those that benefit include patients that have issues with their insurance, whether it is a private carrier or a government subsidy such as Medicaid or Medicare.
The charities that operate these programs collect supplies from the community. Almost everything is gently used, but from time to time there are some new items available. So the medical equipment that is loaned out will generally be refurbished before it is given out to the client.
There are a number of places to turn to. The first option would be to try a Salvation Army center in your town. These church based agencies often have free medical loan closets that operate in partnership with a Family Store. The equipment is usually smaller in nature, and it may be wheelchairs, grab bars, and the link. If if there is not a way to borrow the supplies, they may sell some. Find local Salvation Army centers.
Agency on Aging centers often loan out equipment to senior citizens as well as the disabled. There are hundreds of these non-profits across the country. There is normally a wider range of equipment given out. There may be everything from ambulatory healthcare aids to diabetic supplies, walkers, lifts, and more. Many of these Aging on Aging Centers also provide additional financial assistance, including loans to pay for wheelchair ramp programs.
If those charities do not operate a free medical loan closet, then try other local non-profit organizations such as Goodwill, Lutheran churches, or the United Way 211 service. Referrals are often given out as well.
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