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A Visit From State Senator Robyn Kennedy

By eanderson

July 11, 2023

A group of men and women smiling for a group shot standing in a room
From left to right: Rob Barry, DDS Human Rights Coordinator; Karen Langley, REquipment CEO; Brigitte Casey, Director of DDS AT Centers; Brian Benoit, Equipment Technician; Senator Robyn Kennedy; Bill Fredette (rear), Equipment Technician; James Smith, REquipment Site Coordinator; Tim Purdue, DDS Director of Residential Services; Nicole Erickson, Equipment Technician.

On Friday, July 7th, REquipment was delighted to host a site visit from State Senator Robyn Kennedy (Worcester). Sen. Kennedy, who co-chairs the Joint Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities, visited our Worcester reuse site located within the Department of Developmental Disabilities (DDS) Central MA administrative offices. We were thrilled to share with her our unique public/private collaboration with DDS, particularly as the legislature’s Conference Committee works to finalize the state budget.

REquipment refurbishes donated durable home medical equipment in a large Worcester warehouse space provided at no cost by DDS (an “in kind” contribution). Through our contracted funds, REquipment, in turn, provides staff, supplies, and other resources needed to refurbish and distribute durable medical equipment out into the community. REquipment is the only reuse program in Massachusetts to refurbish power wheelchairs, and the majority are worked on there. This past fiscal year, the Worcester site refurbished and delivered 877 pieces of equipment. In the coming year, this site will build capacity as we expand into assistive technology (AT) reuse to better support the needs of community members with disabilities.

A man works on repairing a power wheelchair on a workbench.
A power wheelchair being refurbished at REquipment’s Worcester reuse site.

At the warehouse, Sen. Kennedy also toured DDS’s AT Center. Here DDS fabricates and customizes equipment for DDS consumers and holds seating clinics. Sen. Kennedy learned how sharing a warehouse serves both DDS and REquipment. Our surplus parts are routinely put to work keeping DDS consumers mobile as they wait for vendor-provided repairs (an often months-long process). On one occasion, a complex rehab power wheelchair provided by REquipment was customized by the DDS AT Center for a DDS consumer’s unique needs. Reuse equipment is always provided faster than new equipment, and it can bridge an essential gap as people wait on vendors.

We hope that Senator Kennedy will take what she’s learned and advocate for us with the Conference Committee. Only the Senate’s FY 24 budget proposal includes $500K of annualized funding essential to our program. A cut of this magnitude would threaten REquipment’s ability to support safety at home, access to the community and generally ensure people stay in the driver’s seat of their lives.