For more than 25 years, Soroptimist International of Sequim has been providing Sequim residents with an alternative way to access medical equipment.
The club is part of a global volunteer organization working to improve the lives of women and girls through programs leading to social and economic development.
One of the group’s programs includes a medical loan closet that allows residents within the Sequim School District to temporarily borrow new and used medical equipment, such as wheelchairs, knee scooters, canes, walkers, transport chairs and smaller equipment from shower benches to toilet risers free of charge.
The equipment is donated from residents or families that no longer have use for it or is purchased by SI Sequim for items the organization does not have. Gena Royal, co-chair of SI Sequim, said some donors have even purchased equipment from garage sales and donated it to the medical loan closet.
SI Sequim volunteers sanitize and clean the equipment after it is returned so another client may use it. The loan is intended for short-term use up to 90 days. If the client discovers he or she will need equipment for permanent use, Royal explained this program allows the client to at least get started.
Royal said SI members started the program after seeing a “rising need” for this service for the retirement population of Sequim. In the 2015-2016 club year, she said volunteers handled 540 equipment requests and estimated 250 of those requests were for major pieces like wheelchairs and knee scooters, while the rest were for smaller items.
A team of 15 volunteers runs the closet consistently during the week. The process is all appointment-based requiring a client to call, leave a voicemail and a volunteer will call back to schedule an appointment. The volunteer will then meet the client at the storage unit at 600 N. Sequim Ave. where the medical equipment is stored.
Royal said one of the benefits of this program to Sequim residents is that it reduces the cost of medical-related items. Medicare is not utilized during the process nor does it require coverage from medical insurance companies.
Royal estimated the closet now has 30 wheelchairs and walkers and 15 transport chairs available, but the numbers always are fluctuating due to equipment being returned and loaned out.
She said the equipment most in demand are wheelchairs, knee scooters and two types of canes the closet carries: a general aluminum-based cane and a deluxe cruiser cane that has a seat, basket and hand brakes.
For inquiries, call 360-504-0231 and leave a voicemail. A volunteer will call back and schedule an appointment.
There are no set times to call the group but generally appointments are made Monday-Saturday.