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Group shares no-longer-needed medical equipment
By MINDY KEPFIELD
Longtime caregiver Connie McMahan knows the high costs seniors face to obtain medical equipment that will aid their quality of life.
She helped her good friend Dee Duggan, who needed canes, walkers, and a wheelchair to get around, make it to doctor’s appointments until she died Nov. 23 from COVID-19 complications.
McMahan’s sister, Lou Kay Johnson, also has relied on walkers and other durable equipment for mobility as her legs weakened.
A neighbor’s kind loan of gently used equipment needed by her sister was a Godsend that spared McMahan’s wallet and sparked a desire to help others.
“I had some health equipment that I wanted to pass on to someone who needed it,” she said. “But I didn’t want to give it to Goodwill or a thrift store. I wanted to give it to someone who would use it.”
She and members of Tampa Sunflower Senior Citizens are putting together an organization that will pass on used equipment to patients who might not be able to afford it.
The nonprofit will be called Dee’s Equipment Closet in honor of Duggan. Her daughters, Darla and Debra Hall, donated $100 from their mother’s memorial to support the effort.
Organizers are planning a donation day when the weather warms, but the response to their plans has been overwhelmingly positive.
“We are finding a lot of people who have equipment they would like to donate,” she said. In the meantime, equipment is being stored at Tampa Beauty Salon.
McMahan said people do not know how expensive canes, scooters, wheelchairs and crutches are until they need them.
“These are high dollar items for many, especially for seniors who are on a fixed income,” she said.
Many seniors chafe at paying for expensive post surgical equipment they know they will not use that long.
“Sometimes you just need it for six weeks,” she said. “After that you don’t need it, so why buy it? You can get it loaned and they give it back.”
Equipment will be cleaned and sanitized before it is loaned. Items will be given to those who need them at no cost.
“When they no longer need it, they can bring it back, so we can clean it up and loan it again,” she said adding.
Money donated to Dee’s Closet for now will be used to clean and repair equipment.
McMahan hopes the charity will grow into resource that fills an unmet need for many vulnerable people.
“We just want service the community the best we can and really help people out,” she said.
Last modified Feb. 18, 2021