Program makes it easy to borrow medical equipment

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Cecilia Caldwell uses a transit chair to relieve the weight on her strained tendon at the Medical Equipment Loan Ministry at the All Saints’ Gym in Kapaa.

KAPAA — Cecilia Caldwell was seated under the shade of the kamani tree at the All Saints’ Gym Monday afternoon, a cane propped against her knee.

“Ironically, I have a strained tendon,” Caldwell said. “My husband Bill said we have four canes, and I should use one.”

The cane was a custom piece with its handle made specifically for the user. It is part of the inventory available for use at the Medical Equipment Loan Ministry which was founded by Caldwell at the All Saints’ Episcopal Church and Preschool.

“Bill had an accident at age 19, long before I knew him,” Caldwell said. “He has had several other operations so I know first-hand the issues people have with medical equipment. After talking about it, we thought this should be free so people can take advantage of it.”

Starting in October, Caldwell said the ministry has loaned out several pieces of equipment to people.

“We have a shower chair out with a person recovering from surgery,” she said. “And, there are other pieces out with people in the community. These pieces are available for as long as people need them. We would love for our equipment to get out in the community to help those in need.”

Caldwell said following an operation in New York, she had a dilemma about getting medical equipment, which even thrift stores would not accept once they were done using it.

“We do have restrictions on what kind of equipment we accept in the ministry,” she said. “Fabric-covered pieces, prescription equipment, and Ace bandages are all out. There is no method we can utilize to sanitize and bring them to industry standards. We also cannot accept large items like hospital beds, or motorized wheelchairs.”

Other pieces, including wheelchairs, transit chairs, walkers — both wheeled, or standard — canes, shower chairs, and other items are available for a nominal deposit.

“All we ask is a $20 deposit when they take the equipment out,” Caldwell said. “Once the piece is returned, we refund $15. The remainder is used to help maintain the equipment, including the cost of sterilization chemicals.”

Caldwell said after returning from New York, she learned about cleaning and restoring medical equipment to industry standards from a home health care facility.

“We just want to simplify the availability of medical equipment for people,” Caldwell said. “There are a number of people whose health insurance does not cover medical equipment which, in some instances, can be expensive. There are other problems which prevent people from getting the needed equipment to improve their lives. We want people to improve their lives for however long it takes.”

This also applies to visitors who, because of the inconvenience of traveling, leave equipment back.

“Visitors are welcome, too,” Caldwell said. “They can use transit chairs, wheelchairs, or other aids for the time they’re here so they are able to enjoy their stay.”

Medical equipment for the ministry come from a lot of different sources, including from Kauai Hospice recommendations.

“People don’t want to be reminded about people’s passing,” Caldwell said. “They don’t want the equipment around to remind them, and they don’t know what to do with it. They end up calling and we’ll go pick it up. One person who is suffering dementia has advanced to the point where he can’t get out for walks, anymore. The family wanted to get rid of his walker because every time he saw it, he would get excited and wanted to go for a walk.”

People needing use of the equipment can just call 431-1306, or email mel@allsaintskauai.org.

“We want to keep it simple,” Caldwell said. “We don’t have office hours. People can call, or email and we’ll make arrangements to meet them so they can have the equipment. There is definitely a need for this simplicity, and it’s so nice to be able to help people.”

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