Durango’s First Presbyterian Church is trying to help people with temporary illness or injury through its medical equipment lending closet.
The church takes donations from people who no longer need their ambulatory medical equipment and lends it to those in need. The program was started two years ago by Jim and Cheryl Clay, who had equipment left over from a family member who suffered an injury. They decided to dispose of the equipment in a way that others could use it by donating it to the church.
They put up flyers advertising the program and immediately received a flood of donations, said Director of Administrative Ministry David Shew, who organizes the program. Flyers detailing the program are displayed in doctors’ offices and physical therapy clinics across La Plata County, Shew said.
The lending closet now has 125 to 150 ambulatory equipment pieces. Some of the equipment includes wheelchairs, bedside commodes, walkers, crutches, canes and high-rise toilet seats. The church has access to four big wheelchairs and three transport wheelchairs.
Shew said people mostly seek crutches, canes, wheelchairs and padded kneelers.
People can use equipment for up to three months; those who no longer need the equipment are asked to return it as soon as possible. The church also does not administer fees to borrow but does accept donations to go toward operating the medical equipment lending closet.
“It’s really the best part of my day, and it’s really almost becoming daily I have something to do,” Shew said.
He said the church’s lending closet is often mentioned by doctors because it can be quicker and cheaper than getting new equipment. Often, people who obtain equipment through a doctor must go through health insurance, which can delay the process. But with the medical equipment lending closet, those in need are able to access equipment without paying for it.
“You’ve got to get a referral or prescription from your medical practitioner and that might take up to a few months to actually get it, which by that time they have healed or gotten better,” Shew said. “So this is nice for a short-term solution.”
To donate or check out equipment, people can call the church’s main office number at 247-3175. A volunteer will schedule an appointment. The church’s office hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday.