In the fall of 2016, the REquipment Durable Medical Equipment & Assistive Technology Reuse Program, Inc. (REquipment, Inc.) took over the administration of the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission’s DME Reuse Program from The Boston Home. Oh, what a year it has been! As a new non-profit, as well as a new state vendor, there was so much to learn in order to do business with the state and meet all applicable laws and regulations. But was it ever worth it!
856 Devices Delivered in Fiscal Year 2017
We are delighted to report that our reuse partners: Pappas Rehabilitation Hospital for Children in Canton, the Department of Developmental Services in Worcester, Stavros Center for Independent Living in Amherst and United Cerebral Palsy of Berkshire County in Pittsfield collected and delivered 856 pieces of refurbished durable medical equipment this past fiscal year. These gently-used devices were all provided free of charge to seniors and people with disabilities including many children and veterans across Massachusetts.
In-demand Equipment Yields New Powered Device Policy
The most requested pieces of equipment were shower and tub seats for safe bathing for seniors, transport wheelchairs because they are lightweight and easy to get in and out of a car and, of course, power wheelchairs and scooters. Power wheelchairs were provided to become a person’s primary chair or as a back-up chair (should their primary chair breakdown), or as an interim chair while a new customized wheelchair was built to meet their specific needs. Because of the high demand for wheelchairs and scooters this year, we instituted a one-wheelchair-or-scooter-per-year policy this past May. We now strongly encourage REquipment program users to pursue a new wheelchair from insurance and will be providing resource information on how to do so.
Delivery Challenges and Solutions
Timely delivery has been our biggest challenge. Because all reuse partner staff work part-time and because of a high volume of delivery requests, deliveries can take up to 3-4 weeks. However, MRC provided REquipment, Inc. with the funds to purchase a used lift-equipped vehicle which was assigned to the Pappas reuse center in July. The van is helping facilitate quicker donation pickups and delivery to those who need it. In addition, we reached out to several nonprofits on the South Shore to identify possible drop-off sites and are happy to announce the Southeast Center for Independent Living in New Bedford will be a drop-off center for approved items in that area. This is now saving driver time and gas resources.
Outreach Outreach Outreach
… has paid off! REquipment now has partnerships with DME vendors, Councils on Aging with loan closets, and disability-specific organizations to share reuse information. As a result, many have been donating their overflow DME to us!
Outreach continues as a major REquipment staff activity. In 2017 we exhibited at 23 conferences, health fairs and events. We conducted 9 presentations on our program, sent mass mailings to Councils On Aging, Veteran Service Organizations, Aging and Disability Resource Consortiums, legislators and others. We participated in Recycle Days in Ayer, Arlington and East Bridgewater, resulting in 40 pieces of equipment for our inventory. We were also guests on two cable TV shows in Boston and Worcester and published a monthly newsletter distributed to over 2000 readers.
Program Satisfaction is Excellent
Meanwhile, we are honored to learn that 93% of respondents to our satisfaction survey report being “highly satisfied” with our service. What makes us happy to come to work each day, however, is the impact we have on the people who receive our equipment. People like Steve who was recently diagnosed with a progressive neurological disease. Steve received a customized power wheelchair through his health insurer but–ridiculously–it was just too big to maneuver in his home. The chair was not returnable and Steve was stuck unable to get around and with no recourse until he found us. We worked with Steve to identify a refurbished power wheelchair appropriate to his needs, one that was also smaller and allowed for his independence. Steve is just one of the 856 people with unique stories we assisted this past year. Our program satisfaction is high, indeed.
If you have gently-used equipment to donate or are in need of equipment please contact us at 800-261-9841 or through our webpage at www.dmereuse.org or email us at email@example.com. If you’d like to make an end-of-year tax-deductible donation, you may do so at this PayPal donation page with a credit card or your own PayPal account. Or you may send a check to REquipment, PO Box 311, Methuen, MA 01844. A tax donation receipt will be provided.
Here’s to 2018!