Red Cross place to go for medical equipment

IF YOU need medical equipment, such as a wheelchair for temporary use, the Canadian Red Cross Health Equipment Loan office is here to help.

VOLUNTEERS Norma MacDonald

IF YOU need medical equipment, such as a wheelchair for temporary use, the Canadian Red Cross Health Equipment Loan office is here to help.

Equipment such as crutches, walkers or bathroom aids, to name a few, are available for free with a doctor’s or physiotherapist’s referral from the office, which is located at 4450 Greig Ave.

Demand for equipment has gone up over the years and the office has been busy during the last three weeks, said volunteer Annette Desch.

The increase is also because people know more about the service and there’s more of a need for it with the population getting older and needing hip and knee replacements, said Sandra Sawtell, coordinator of the Health Equipment Loan Program (HELP) client services.

Young people do make up a good portion of those who come for help as more people move to town and there tends to be lots of sports injuries in summer, said volunteer Norma MacDonald.

Volunteers help out as technicians, cleaning and sanitizing the equipment and making sure it’s in good working order when it’s returned, or in the office, interacting with people, processing people’s orders for equipment and sending out reminder notices for when the equipment is due back – it’s loaned out for three to six months.

The HELP service gets its financing from Northern Health, donations and volunteer efforts to raise money, said Sawtell, adding Northern Health provides the equipment.

Without volunteers, the service wouldn’t exist, said Sawtell.

Right now, the HELP office is open Tuesdays and Fridays from noon to 2 p.m. It would be great to offer more hours but more volunteers are needed to make that happen, she added.

New volunteers are always welcome. Anyone interested in volunteering can call 1-800-278-7177 or 250-564-6566.

Sawtell reminds people that the Red Cross office is not to be confused as the place where you give blood – Red Cross offices do not do that. The place to give blood is at Canadian Blood Services.

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