This blog was written by Judy Jackson, Medical Loan Closet Coordinator for St. John Episcopal Church in Bandon, Oregon. Contact information is available at the end.
A loan closet is a program that allows people to borrow durable medical equipment and home medical equipment at no cost. Wikipedia
In 2017 we opened the St. John’s Medical Loan Closet in Bandon with four volunteers, a 13’ x 15’ space for operations, one wheelchair, and few expectations.
Since then our collection has grown to 194 pieces of durable medical equipment (DME) including wheelchairs, walkers, toileting and bathing aids, knee scooters, crutches, and canes. The word is out and each year we serve hundreds of clients who come from a region stretching from Reedsport to Brookings, and inland to Myrtle Point. Our clients are recovering from surgeries and accidents, are dealing with illness, or are facing the end of life.
We’ve been surprised by many things in the five years we’ve been in business, not the least of which is the high demand for this kind of program. The number of clients served since 2017 has increased by a remarkable 500%. Folks from all over Oregon call looking for a place to either get DME or donate DME and they’re disappointed to learn that Bandon is simply too far away to be practical. There is an unmet and growing demand for medical loan closets in our state – even in metro areas.
We received seed money from our BAC and ECW, additional funding from the Diocese’s Pentecost Offering Grant, and then a generous donation from a local philanthropic group. We’re able to keep expenses down by using free inventory-tracking and communication technologies. Luckily, most of our inventory has been donated by people who wish to share with others what they no longer need.
We work with doctors, clinics and hospitals and many of our clients are referred by them. Word of mouth is a powerful advertising tool, but the relationships we’ve developed with local medical providers has additionally helped us to meet the need in our community.
Our clients show amazing fortitude. They need easy and temporary access to mobility equipment at a time of anxiety and disruption, and the grace they show while dealing with crises and even tragedy is humbling. But most of all the Medical Loan Closet volunteers and people of St. John’s have been stunned by their overwhelming gratitude. Even though we insist that the equipment loans are free, clients hand over cash donations. For them it’s a tangible way to express inexpressible thanks. Their thank-yous renew in us the drive we need to keep this program staffed and running. It is truly heartwarming.
We encourage other churches in the Diocese to consider hosting a medical loan closet. Imagine a
network that helps to keep Oregonians mobile. Should your congregation want more information we stand ready with advice and start-up suggestions. Please feel free to get in touch on the dedicated number and email: (541) 590-2443, email@example.com, or by contacting St. John’s directly: (541) 347-2152, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Medical Loan Closet Coordinator