March 27, 2020
Recently Dan Perkins, REquipment Donations Coordinator, made a follow-up call to Kelly McDermott, a physical therapist with the Boston Public Schools. Kelly had received a tilt-in-space pediatric wheelchair from REquipment and Dan called to hear how it was going and help troubleshoot any problems or concerns. Kelly has helped many families acquire the equipment their children need through our program, but Dan soon heard this case was special. They decided it was a story to share.
“Peter” was born very prematurely and spent the first three years of his life living at the hospital. He came home in August and with the tilt-in-space wheelchair Kelly found in the REquipment inventory, he’s now successfully made the transition to school.
When he first came home his parents had just a standard stroller for him. But Peter is not yet able to walk, has a tracheostomy, a feeding tube, a suction machine and could not be easily transported to school without the specialized equipment that could make that possible. To be safe on the bus he required, too, a wheelchair that is transport-safe with a chest harness and pelvic belt.
Kelly was amazed when she found the pediatric device he needed in the REquipment inventory.
“Insurance takes months,” she emphasizes, again and again. “We expect his request to be approved, but lately–in general–denials have been getting worse. It feels like they look for reasons to deny and then you have to go through the appeals and it all drags out. We’re so grateful for REquipment.”
Kelly says that Peter’s nurse, who accompanies him to school, is delighted by the chair because it can carry all his durable medical equipment and accommodate using his different devices throughout the day as well as tilt Peter back as needed. The bus driver is happy because it’s safe for transport and his teacher is happy; the wheelchair came with a tray and Peter can easily participate in fine motor activities.
The real surprise, however, was Peter himself, “and how delighted he is to go to school!” Kelly gushes. After all, wouldn’t the school transition be stressful, as it is for so many three-year-olds? “But he’s just been smiling, engaged, participating and eager. He’s just doing so well.” He doesn’t speak since he has a tracheostomy, but he expresses clear preferences and his intelligence shines, she says.
Considering what we all know about the importance of these early years for development and growth, REquipment is humbled to have the opportunity to make this kind of positive impact on the lives of children and their families, an impact that will span out over the course of their whole lives.
For her part, Kelly stresses how grateful she and her colleagues are to have access to our program. “The chair was in perfect condition. It was cleaned. Everything worked. The brakes were good; the tilt worked; the lateral supports, we could adjust it; everything was awesome. I’ve requested a lot of equipment over the years for kids who don’t have insurance or have inadequate insurance: gait trainers and standers that have benefitted our students. I don’t know what we’d do without REquipment.”