Central Texas university offering free loaner program for medical equipment

Published: Sep. 12, 2022 at 7:28 AM CDT
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BELTON, Texas (KWTX) - A group of University of Mary Hardin-Baylor occupational therapy graduate students are offering a free loaner program for medical equipment.

Medical equipment ranges from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Students noticed a need for the equipment in the Bell County area and started working on a program to learn as well as help the community.

“Through one of our series of courses called the Integrative Project, a group of students have decided to develop a program that serves our community, but also provides a really great learning experience to the students,” UMHB program director for occupational therapy, Giuli Krug, said.

The medical equipment they have in store includes wheelchairs, shower chairs, crutches and special walkers and wheelchairs for children. People can find the inventory available through the QR code or link.

“If they see something they think might work for them, then that QR code also takes them to a document that they can fill out that tells us who they are, what they need, what they’re looking for, and what item that they think might work for them,” Krug said. “We will get that document and that information, and, then, we will let them know if it’s available or not, and, then, give them notification of the next collection day.”

Collection days will be twice a month starting today. Students will be at Frazier Hall--1102 King St., Belton, TX--from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. to hand out the equipment for those who attend or signed up prior.

Graduate Students in the program, Karon Zinsmeister, Gary Williams, Kaycee Koiner and Sam Harrison, found the need for medical equipment in the community by evaluating the Bell County 2020 Census.

“They took a look at the census data of the area to determine the percent of people with disabilities in Central Texas, and it’s a pretty large percentage,” Krug said. “We have a lot of people here that have different types of disabilities.”

They also contacted local agencies that sell medical equipment and found that they receive a lot of requests.

“That has been an identified need for quite a while by the agencies here in town,” she said.

After researching, the group collected used medical equipment from community members. Then, they evaluated the equipment to make sure it was in a good state for future users.

Krug said they gathered many different types of motor-specific equipment which allowed them to learn even more for their future careers in occupational therapy.

“We can have OT students engage in the process of bringing the equipment in, learning about the equipment, tagging the equipment, cleaning the equipment, those kinds of things, and, then, also, when needed, help to fit the equipment to the equipment user,” Krug said.

The loaner program will make medical equipment not just available to community members but also free. Students said this will help more residents able to function independently.

“Part of occupational therapy is serving people to be able to accomplish their daily occupations and whatever that looks like,” Zinsmeister said. “So, if we can provide a service of someone just needing a walker or a shower chair...to help individuals be able to make it through their day-to-day lives, I think that’s the most meaningful part.”

The program is mainly focused to help those in the community that cannot afford this equipment.

“It’s just very important to be able to help out individuals who can’t afford these type of equipment and don’t have access to it,” Williams said. “Part of occupational therapy is just giving someone that form of independence, and a lot of people who can’t move around, being able to have a wheelchair that they couldn’t afford is just very impactful.”

The program also helps people who may just need the equipment for temporary use but can’t afford such an expensive item for a short period of time.

“Depending on what they choose is going to help them significantly, especially if it’s a family of multiple children who need a piece of equipment that can make an amazing impact on them and allow them to afford other things that they need in their life,” Koiner said.

However, the group said anyone can apply to the loaner program and keep the equipment for however long they need. They do ask that, once someone stops using the equipment, they donate it back to the community, but an individual can use the equipment for the rest of their life if needed.

More information about the program can be found on UMHB Occupational Therapy social media platforms.

The following are future collection dates for the community:

September 26

October 10 and 24

November 7