The Medical Equipment Graveyard

Posted on August 23rd, 2013 by Denise | No Comments

The Medical Equipment Graveyard

By

Denise Koonce OTR

Wheelchairs, orthotics, standers, seating systems, cushions, splints, Theratogs, benches, walkers, bath chairs, and on and on, can begin to look like a medical equipment graveyard somewhere in your home when they are no longer used.  When you have a child or a family member with special needs the medical equipment can begin to truly stack up over the years.  The time involved to measure, order, adjust, readjust, and then build up the individual’s tolerance to use the equipment can be an emotional workout.  The equipment in turn, will decrease the opportunity for secondary impairments and increase their independence, but it can become very difficult to just throw away those items without guilt.  They also come with a cost and the cost is generally not inexpensive.  Sometimes these costs are covered by insurance and sometimes they are not.  Parents wanting the best for their children will determine a way to pay for the items needed and necessary to improve the quality of their children’s lives.  So when the child outgrows the pieces of equipment it seems difficult to just throw them away.  You want more for these inanimate objects than just the trash heap.  You want them to still provide benefit to someone even if it isn’t your child or loved one.  They need another good home.  So what are you to do?  I have been asked this question a multitude of times by families.  There is no one answer to this question and it has continually changed over the years, but fortunately here in Houston we have options. 

There are several organizations across the country that take donations of medical supplies and equipment and will use them for efforts either in the U.S. or in other countries.  A problem with the companies located outside of our area is getting the equipment and supplies to the agency.  However, here in the Houston area we have at least two strong nonprofit organizations who accept donations of durable medical equipment and one also accepts medical supplies.  The two agencies are Faith Center Food Pantry and Clothes Closet and Medical Bridges, Inc. 

Faith Center Food Pantry and Clothes Closet is one of many outreach ministries supported by First Baptist Church, Houston.  Faith Center does collect food and clothing donations but they also accept medical equipment donations new or used including wheelchairs, walkers, and standers.  They work in concert with Wheels for the World, a ministry of Joni and Friends International Disability Center, to help provide wheelchairs internationally to those in need.  A unique aspect about Faith Center is they can accept used or broken wheelchairs.  Faith Center is able to do this because Wheels for the World created a program where the broken chairs are sent to prisons like Angola prison in Louisiana, and trained inmates repair and refurbish the wheelchairs before they are sent on to their final destination worldwide.   Another benefit about Faith Center is they have a large enough warehouse that they can build up their stock before shipping it off.  So, there is a good chance that at any given time they may have wheelchairs and medical equipment housed in their warehouse.  Therefore, if you have a patient who is in need of equipment and does not have the funding to obtain the equipment, Faith Center could be a place to start.  The Faith Center Food Pantry and Clothes Closet is open on Monday – Thursday and Saturday, 10 – 2:00pm.  A contact person is John Gresham and can be reached at 713-554-8817 or by email at john.gresham@houstonsfirst.org.  They are located in the Spring Branch area and their physical address is

Faith Center Food Pantry and Clothes Closet

8244 Long Point Road

Houston, TX  77055

(corner of Long Point Rd. and Ridgecrest Dr.)

The other local agency which accepts medical supplies and equipment donations is Medical Bridges, Inc.  Medical Bridges, Inc. was formed in 1997 by Dr. Patricia Brock and a group of concerned individuals, after she returned from a foreign medical mission’s trip.  During her trip she realized how limited third world and other countries are in their ability to provide proper medical care due to a lack of resources.   Therefore, their goal is to fill at least 40 shipping containers each year with medical equipment and supplies and send them to the countries which need it.  They accept any medical supplies that have not expired and medical equipment, new or used.  They do not accept medications.  If you have items too large for you to transport then you may call Medical Bridges and ask for the Procurement department to arrange for a pick up.  They are open for donations Monday – Friday 8 – 4:30pm and Saturday by appointment.  They are closed daily for lunch from 12:00 – 1:00pm.  They are located south of the medical center and their physical address is

Medical Bridges, Inc.

2706 Magnet Street

Houston, TX  77054

Phone 713-748-8131

Fax 713-748-0118

www.medicalbridges.org

So don’t wait any longer, now is your chance to clear out that corner of a room, closet, back porch or the garage and donate all the used medical equipment you couldn’t just throw away because of guilt.  This is a wonderful way to give to others less fortunate around the world and help improve their quality of life.  If you are aware of other organizations such as those mentioned above who operate locally please share them with us.  May your home, be your home, once again and no longer a medical equipment graveyard!

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