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Where to Find Medical Equipment If We Can’t Afford It

Where to find medical equipment from a medical lending library

She called me to let me know her dad was having a harder time getting in and out of bed. Dad was still living at home with his wife and wanted to continue to do so. The first thing that was needed was a hospital bed. “Let me make a few phone calls and see what I can do.” In the Austin area, where i am located, there are several Medical lending closets/services. I called the first one, it is based in a church,, and left a message about what I was looking for. Shortly after, I was called back with the name and phone number of a woman who had a hospital bed to give. I immediately gave her a call and, not only did she have a fine hospital bed, but she had a high quality air mattress for it and a Hoyer lift that we could have, if we could pick them up. I called the daughter up, told her what I was able to find through the medical lending library and asked her if she wanted all these items and if she could arrange to pick them up from that kind woman’s house. The following Saturday, her family was able to set up her dad with the bed and the Hoyer lift. 

What are Medical Lending Closets or Programs

Medical lending closets, are sometimes called loan closets, are community-based programs that provide durable medical equipment (DME) and supplies to individuals in need at no or occasionally low cost. These programs are particularly beneficial for those recovering from illness or injury, senior citizens, veterans, or individuals with disabilities who may need equipment for a short period or cannot afford to purchase it.

What Kinds of Items Can You Find in a Medical Lending Closet

Medical lending closets typically offer a range of DME, including but not limited to:

  • Wheelchairs
  • Walkers
  • Canes
  • Crutches
  • Shower chairs
  • Bath seats
  • Raised toilet seats
  • Bedside commodes
  • Hospital beds
  • Electric wheelchairs 
  • Patient lifts

An important aspect as to what they may or may not have available is the space they have to warehouse the equipment. Many, like the one in my example earlier, do not have any space to store equipment and are just a resource for connecting people who have equipment or supplies to share to those in need of the medical equipment. 

How Medical Supply Closets Serve our Communities 

These programs serve the community by:

  • Providing access to necessary medical equipment for those who may not have the financial means to purchase or rent them.
  • Assisting individuals during recovery from surgery or injury when the need for equipment is temporary.
  • Helping caregivers to better support family members with mobility or daily living challenges.
  • Reducing waste by reusing and recycling medical equipment.

Examples Across the Country

Medical lending closets can be found in various locations, including:

  • Churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples
  • Senior centers
  • Fire stations
  • Non-profit organizations
  • Hospitals and healthcare facilities

Finding or Starting a Medical Lending Closet

To find a medical lending closet, individuals can:

  • Contact local social workers, hospital discharge staff, and physicians’ offices.
  • Search online or other local or regional resources.

If you know of a medical lending closet in your community please feel free to list it in the comments below.

To start a medical lending closet in your community, consider the following steps:

  1. Identify the need in your community for such a service.
  2. Gather a group of interested volunteers or partner with local organizations.
  3. Secure a space for storing and distributing the equipment.
  4. Collect donations of equipment and funds to cover operational costs.
  5. Promote the service to healthcare providers and the community at large.

Medical lending closets are a vital resource for many communities, providing essential medical equipment to those in need. They rely on donations and volunteers to operate. They can be an incredible resource to you and your loved ones. 

Medical Lending Closets in the Austin Area

I mentioned earlier there are several great lending libraries in the Central Texas area that I have connected families with. Those include:

Supporting a local medical lending library is a way to contribute to the well-being of your community who may be facing health or financial challenges. Individuals can begin to help the community by spreading the word about the existence of these valuable resources to make sure that those in need are aware of the available support. You would be surprised by how many people have never heard of a medical lending closet before. Additionally, if you or a loved one are in a position to do so, donating durable medical equipment or supplies that are no longer needed can make a huge difference. Before making a donation, contact the lending closet to confirm their current needs and any specific donation guidelines they may have. By donating, individuals not only help others in their community but also contribute to sustainability by giving a second life to medical items.

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