Hurricane-damaged medical equipment replaced through local nonprofit

Air Force members receive Durable Medical Equipment at Landmark Middle School from the Independent Living Resource Center.

Air Force members receive Durable Medical Equipment at Landmark Middle School from the Independent Living Resource Center.

Hurricane evacuations and the subsequent return to normality can be difficult in the best of circumstances, but add a disability into the mix and the challenge becomes even greater.

Thanks to the Brooks Temporary Loan Closet (TLC) at the Independent Living Resource Center (ILRC), 2709 Art Museum Dr., people requiring Durable Medical Equipment (DME), such as electric scooters, wheelchairs, hospital beds, commode chairs, walkers, etc. were able to get what they needed and avoid red tape.

After Hurricane Irma, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services deemed it necessary to issue a blanket waiver to suppliers of DME, according to Avondale resident Tyler Lasher Morris, executive director of the ILRC. Under this waiver, the loan closet became a clearinghouse for DME and was able to provide the consumer a temporary loan if their equipment had been rendered unusable.

“We were able to bring relief to the consumer who, in the wake of the hurricane, had to evacuate quickly and didn’t have time to retrieve their equipment, or the equipment might have been irreparably damaged in the storm,” explained Morris. “We also made deliveries to shelters   where there was a need for DME.”

Morris added that, since his 11 years with the ILRC, “We have provided free equipment to the community as a short-term loan generally for about 90 days. But occasionally, we’ve donated the equipment, when needed.”

Hurricanes aside, equipment is also available to individuals who are on short-term disability and a re going through the rehab and recovery process, said Morris. “People don’t have to spend money or wait on insurance companies to pay for DME. They can borrow from the TLC which prevents unnecessary wait time fostering a quicker recovery,” he said.

The ILRC assisted the Rodriguez family from Port Lavaca, Texas, who sheltered in Jacksonville during Hurricane Harvey, with a wheelchair battery charger, standard wheelchair and transfer shower seat.

The ILRC assisted the Rodriguez family from Port Lavaca, Texas, who sheltered in Jacksonville during Hurricane Harvey, with a wheelchair battery charger, standard wheelchair and transfer shower seat.

Morris noted that it only takes about 5-10 minutes to complete an online request but you must have a prescription or referral signed by your doctor.

“As of January, the TLC has experienced a significant increase in requests from hospitals and rehabilitation facilities. This growth is due to the improved effective communications with medical personnel through the online inventory and new request process at www.theILRC.org/TLC,” said Morris.

Additionally, since January, the loan closet has managed inventory and medical equipment distribution with an estimated value of $299,032; distributed 79 pieces of medical equipment at no cost to patients in the care of Brooks Rehabilitation Hospital valued at $38,785; and, obtained a $35,000 specialized wheelchair for a patient with ALS while he awaited custom-fit equipment from partner, Brooks Rehabilitation, according to Morris.

“The partnership between Brooks Rehabilitation and the ILRC was born out of the need to supply reliable durable medical equipment to consumers in the community who may not have insurance or the funds necessary to secure the equipment needed for a safe transition to home or to be able to stay independently in their homes,” said Marion Anderson, executive director, Community Health with Brooks.

ILRC is looking for donations. “We have an extensive wait list,” said Morris. “There is high demand, and low inventory, for electric scooters, standard wheelchairs, and rollators (walker with a seat). We have a list of partners, including Brooks Rehabilitation, but we receive the majority of our equipment from the community. Family members donate DME from loved ones who pass away; individuals who no longer have use for the equipment put it back into the community; and, we receive an annual award from Brooks Rehabilitation.”

Volunteers for the TLC are also needed, said Morris. “We need volunteers to help distribute the equipment and collect donations. We’re only asking for at least four hours a month. This is a great opportunity to get involved and provide a service for people in need.”

Interested persons can contact the ILRC Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., toll free at 888.427.4313, locally at 399.8484, or via email to [email protected]


By Phyllis Bell-Davis
Resident Community News

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