Yesterday was Independent Living Education Day at the State House. The event is a great opportunity to educate lawmakers on the challenges persons with disabilities face and the role REquipment plays to support their community living. Below is my testimony:
Crossing a Boston street, a woman using a power-assist manual wheelchair broke her front caster on the trolley track. Her DME company said it would take 2 weeks to get the part and fix it.
A newly-disabled man with a spinal cord injury was ready to leave Spaulding Rehab Hospital but needed a power wheelchair to go home. His customized equipment was on order but would take several months to deliver.
A woman on Martha’s Vineyard’s scooter broke and she needed a replacement so she could stay active in her community.
A woman in Worcester fell on her way out of work and broke her leg on the icy sidewalk. Using crutches on the job was too exhausting.
A family in Boston needed an adapted stroller for their son with cerebral palsy once he grew too heavy to carry.
An elderly woman was ready for discharge from a rehab facility, but needed a wheelchair for use at home. Medicare was no longer providing the equipment she needed and she owed a DME company money on the wheelchair she’d had before her hospitalization.
What do these people have in common?
They all benefitted from the REquipment Durable Medical Equipment Reuse program. Each was provided with refurbished equipment for free when they needed it.
Since REquipment first started as a pilot in 2013, we have given away over 1,300 pieces of equipment. These include power and manual wheelchairs, scooters, tub seats, shower chairs, sling lifts, rollators, standers, adapted strollers, knee walkers, positioning seating, portable ramps and a whole lot more! In less than 5 years, REquipment has already saved persons with disabilities and seniors a total of $2.6 million through reuse.
How many people here today use these types of devices or who have family members that do?
How many of you don’t have backup equipment should your mobility equipment break and need a repair?
If you use durable medical equipment, you know repairs can often take a couple of weeks to get fixed. So what happens in the meantime? You miss out on school, work, socialization, attending church or family events and more.
Ever been stuck in bed waiting for repairs? You are now at risk of secondary health conditions such as pneumonia, blood clots, and pressure sores. Having a backup system is essential.
That is why REquipment came into existence: to support people with disabilities and elders who need equipment when their insurance won’t provide it, or when it will take too long for new equipment to arrive, or when they need a second piece of equipment for many other reasons.
The 2010 Massachusetts census reported there are 171,000 people with an ambulatory disability ages 18-64 in the Commonwealth, and 85,000 are using wheelchairs and scooters. There are also 938,000 elders over the age of 65.
On behalf of all who may become a REquipment service user, we wish to thank the legislators for funding this safety net program.
And as all of us make our visits with our state reps and senators today to talk about health care, housing vouchers, and access legislation, please also take a minute to thank your legislator for his or her continued support for REquipment DME reuse Program.
Whether you need equipment or, perhaps, have equipment to donate, your support is needed and appreciated.