Used medical equipment gets new life of helping in state program
BY SHANNON MUCHMORE World Staff Writer
Monday, February 25, 2013
2/25/13 at 2:34 AM
When Mary Whittaker of Tulsa got a prescription for a nebulizer, a device that delivers drugs in the form of mist, she checked with her Sooner Care insurance only to find out the machine wasn't covered for adults.
She expected to go through an ordeal to get one, but a simple call to the Oklahoma Durable Medical Equipment Reuse Program set her on the right path.
"When I got to them, they just worked it right out for me," she said.
The program, which has been running since April and is a partnership between the Oklahoma Health Care Authority and Oklahoma ABLE Tech, gives durable medical equipment no longer needed by one person to another who can use it.
About 250 items have been reused so far.
Those with Sooner Care are given priority but after a piece of equipment has been available for 60 days, anyone can use it, regardless of income or insurance, said Katie Woodward, program manager.
A person fills out a simple form to request a piece of equipment. More than 15 pieces are available. For a few, like power wheelchairs and hospital beds, an applicant must show a prescription and have an evaluation, she said.
Turnaround time for a piece of equipment is about two weeks, she said.
The program has been sent as many as 49 pieces in one month but is currently low on donations. Ten people are on a waiting list for a C-PAP machine to treat sleep apnea, she said.
The program picks up and delivers equipment within 50 miles of Oklahoma City but is looking at satellite dropoff locations, such as in Owasso, Woodward said.
"There is a fantastic need for this statewide, and I think the hope for everybody is that this program is able to grow in such a way that we can have satellite offices," she said. "I think the big picture is satellite offices statewide to make it more convenient for everybody else."
Anyone in the state with a need or equipment to donate should call because often there is some way to get devices picked up or delivered, Woodward said.
"We can try to make some sort of arrangement," she said.
They aim to find equipment less than five years old, and not all pieces can be accepted, but the program can refer someone to other methods of recycling, she said.
Once a piece has been accepted it is cleaned and sanitized before being sent to a person in need, she said.
Whittaker said she uses her nebulizer about three times a week, whenever she has an asthma attack. Sometimes just climbing the stairs to her apartment can trigger an attack.
It always makes her feel better, she said.
"It's been going great," she said. "I use it all the time."
Woodward said the most requested pieces are power scooters and power wheelchairs, hospital beds, bath benches and shower chairs.
"Primarily I just would like everyone to know that we exist," she said. "We're here and we're here to help people and give them some independence in their lives. That's the main purpose for the program is to be able to save Oklahoma some money and help a person in need by giving them some independence."
Source: Oklahoma Durable Medical Equipment Reuse Program
- Augmentative communication devices
- Gait trainers
- Quad cane
- Shower chairs
- Bath benches
- Hospital beds (electric and semi-electric)
- Patient lifts
- Wheelchairs (manual and power)
For more information
Call 405-523-4810 or go to tulsaworld.com/dmereuse
Original Print Headline: Program reuses medical devices
Shannon Muchmore 918-581-8378
Asthma patient Mary Whittaker received a nebulizer, a device that delivers drugs in the form of mist, through the Oklahoma Durable Medical Equipment Reuse Program. MICHAEL WYKE / Tulsa World