Jen Baker, REquipment Program Director, and I were talking the other day about how collaborating with other programs makes it possible for us to assist more people with disabilities and seniors to have a better quality of life. Two examples come to mind.
The first connects resources within MassMATCH, our State AT Program run by the Mass Rehab Commission. REquipment is a MassMATCH service provider for reuse durable medical equipment, but MassMATCH has other services as well including a Short-Term Device Loan program provided through its AT Regional Centers (ATRCs). In Pittsfield, Worcester and Boston, anyone can borrow AT devices from the MassMATCH device loan inventory free of charge for up to 4 weeks at a time. Knowing about these ATRC services can be very useful when we are working to help a community member.
For example, when a daughter recently requested a refurbished power wheelchair for her mother who was home on hospice, REquipment was happy to help. We learned, however, that the home has no ramp and so there would be no way to get the chair in or out of the residence. Jen Baker reviews each REquipment wheelchair request to make sure the correct size and model has been selected for the intended user and to help troubleshoot any additional obstacles. Jen knew the ATRCs loan portable ramps free of charge and put the daughter in touch with her local Center. REquipment delivered the family the power wheelchair once we’d learned the ATRC had set the family up with wheelchair access. Linking our programs made all the difference for this daughter and her mother who, while not strong enough to push a manual chair, can operate a joystick just fine!
My second example has to do with the disposal of hospital beds. After a loved one passes away at home, families are often eager to remove the hospital bed as soon as possible. In Massachusetts, however, these can be remarkably difficult to donate. Not only are they big and cumbersome, programs like ours don’t have the storage space or capacity to refurbish and transport them. Until last March, REquipment declined many offers of hospital beds with little advice for callers. Then we learned of The Hospital Bed Project.
Don Hoerman began the Hospital Bed Project as an all-volunteer effort to serve Connecticut and Massachusetts. The Hospital Bed Project is comprised of a small network of people who retrieve beds in their region and then pair the beds with community members who need them. Hoerman recently reported to Jen that since learning of The Hospital Bed Project last March, REquipment has referred over 100 families with beds! Now we have a way to help grieving families get rid of this unneeded equipment while keeping them out of landfills and in use in our communities.
Interested in learning more about your AT Regional Center? Visit this MassMATCH.org webpage. And if you have a hospital bed need or one to donate, contact Don Hoerman at 860-558-5064 or email TheHospitalBedProject@gmail.com