Medical equipment loan program remains robust

WESTFIELD-Since purchasing medical equipment can be costly, the Westfield Council on Aging has a medical equipment loan program that has proven to be a lifesaver for many in the area.

“The senior centers throughout Western Massachusetts closed their doors to the public in March 2020,” said Tina Gorman, executive director, Westfield Council on Aging/Senior Center. “Although all of the centers provided curbside services, only a handful were able to continue with their durable medical equipment loan program.”

Gorman said the “biggest obstacle” for her staff was cleaning and sanitizing the equipment.

From wheelchairs to commodes, medical equipment can be loaned out through the Westfield Senior Center. (WESTFIELD COUNCIL ON AGING PHOTO)

“We are very lucky to have a full-time building maintenance craftsman, Alex Hibert, who kept up with cleaning, sanitizing, and doing minor repairs on the equipment that was loaned out and returned,” said Gorman, adding, “So, we were able to assist seniors from Westfield as well as the surrounding communities.”

Gorman noted that early in the pandemic, Mary Beth Ogulewicz, a Westfield resident and director of the Amherst Council on Aging, offered to donate medical equipment to Westfield.

“Amherst needed the space for relocated town employees,” said Gorman. “Ward 4 City Councilor Mike Burns borrowed a trailer to transport the equipment and bring it to our senior center. What an incredible example of working together for the benefit of all.”

Medical equipment is loaned out for up to six months.

“Sometimes people are recovering from surgery such as a hip or knee replacement and only need the equipment for a few weeks or months,” said Gorman. “In other cases, the person may need a specific piece of equipment long term. If they are going to purchase an item, the loan program affords them the opportunity to experiment with size and style before making the investment.”

Equipment available includes regular wheelchairs, lighter weight transfer wheelchairs, portable commodes, raised toilet seats, regular walkers and seated rollator walkers, shower chairs and stools, tub benches, adjustable canes, quad canes, and knee scooters.

“Priority is given to older adults aged 60+,” said Gorman. “However, we also help out younger individuals if we possibly can.”

Gorman said she can accept equipment that is clean and in good to excellent condition.

“Those wishing to donate an item should call the Westfield Senior Center first to see if there is a need,” said Gorman. “Medical equipment takes up a great deal of space, which is why some senior centers don’t have the program. We don’t accept items if we already have more than we need.”

Those needing medical equipment should call the Westfield Senior Center at (413) 562-6435.

“We cannot accommodate drop-ins,” said Gorman. “A staff member will review options over the phone.”

Gorman noted that in some cases a person may be asked to provide measurements of doors, tubs, and the area around the bathroom toilet to ensure the requested item will fit in a specific space.

“We may ask for the approximate height and weight of the person who will use the equipment because wheelchairs, walkers, canes, and commodes come in various sizes,” said Gorman. “All paperwork is done in advance over the phone.”

Equipment is then picked up on a scheduled day within a specific timeframe that is convenient for both the family as well as the Council on Aging staff.

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