Why do we recycle durable medical equipment? It is a simple, single question, but the reasons are numerous...
Refurbishing equipment, which includes accepting donations, sanitizing and repairing the items, and then making it available to those who have a need for these items, involves multiple steps.
Donations of equipment can occur for many reasons. With pediatric equipment, for example, the child may, as children do, outgrow the equipment and require a larger size. The previously purchased item that they no longer need is often still in very good working condition and can be of benefit to someone else in that size range. While much of the equipment is adjustable, it usually is only adjustable within certain ranges and children will inevitably outgrow the various ranges.
Medical equipment can often be large and bulky and having equipment around that is no longer needed or used is generally not desirable. However, this type of equipment can, of course, also have a great deal of sentimental value for both the user and the family, which can also be enhanced by circumstance. Being able to donate an item to a non-profit can often, for sentimental reasons, be a choice that provides an appropriate outlet for these types of items that can carry a great deal of sentimentality with them depending upon circumstances.
Other equipment is donated because an individual's condition has changed and the items are no longer needed such as through rehabilitation or, in some cases, more extensive equipment may be needed. In either case, the equipment once appropriate is no longer suitable for the user.
The third instance that we will mention is when insurance replaces a particular item based on the allowed replacement schedule.
As we all know or will someday learn, medical equipment can be extremely costly, and durable medical equipment that can be reused helps to limit some of this cost and improve access and availability to that which is needed and can improve quality of life. In addition to recycling the economic value in this equipment, and its functional value, the recycled material is also of benefit to our environment. Having an outlet for durable medical equipment (DME) recycling reduces waste in all these forms.
While other avenues of recycling equipment, such as reselling the items as an individual through eBay or Craigslist is possible, it can present additional issues due to safety and sanitation concerns, which are alleviated by donating to a non-profit such as Accessibility Medical Equipment that can refurbish and sanitize items in a systematic and thorough way, in accordance with Federal CMS standards.
Additionally, selling refurbished medical equipment is usually more challenging than other non-medical items because of the nature of the needs of the individual varying greatly depending on their disability or condition. Accessibility Medical Equipment, in contrast, has a network of contacts including medical professionals who likewise are connected to end-users for such equipment, equipped with the knowledge of which items would best-suit a particular individual.
The third step in the Recycling Process is, of course, this purchase of equipment for or by the end user. There are many, many reasons why refurbished equipment may be preferred to buying new but here are just a few to consider. The cost of medical equipment, such as wheelchairs, power wheelchairs, pediatric items, respiratory care items, and so on is often very, very expensive. To access these types of items, many people can only afford what insurance will cover. With refurbished products through Accessibility Medical Equipment, however, there are often additional, affordable options. A family, for example, may have a child who uses a tilt-in-space wheelchair, which is a bulky item to transport. Any time the family wants to go out, the chair must be lifted into their vehicle which is not equipped with a lift. Insurance often will only pay for one wheelchair, either power or manual, depending on the needs of the individual, and yet different circumstances may require a different style of chair. A more mobile chair option enables families who would otherwise stay at home to go out and do more, allowing the child and the family to live life to the fullest rather than restricted by that which insurance will cover. Our discounted refurbished products fill many of these gaps for families and individuals who would otherwise experience these types of barriers.
Just as one family may donate a pediatric gait trainer their child has used because he or she grew out of that size and received a new walker, another family may be in the predicament of not yet having a new size that their child needs to continue with their therapy due to delays in getting insurance approval. The availability of refurbished options means that their child's development is not hindered by red tape, delays, and scheduling difficulties.
This is not only a dilemma for children and families but an individual who received a manual wheelchair through his insurance due to his ability to manually propel himself was nonetheless stranded in his living environment due to the steepness of the driveway that led to his door and the hills in the surrounding community where he lived. This individual was unable to live his life the way he wanted until he purchased a low-cost refurbished power wheelchair which meant he could become involved and included in the happenings of the community, getting his life back to normal through simple inclusion rather than exclusion. While the insurance rules would not provide an additional wheelchair, in this case, an electric wheelchair due to the environmental circumstances, it was nonetheless necessary for him to live his life in the community where he lives.
Obviously, a lack of insurance coverage for the person in general or for specific items can also be of issue for many individuals. But even having coverage does not always guarantee that a particular item will be provided. Items like alternating pressure air mattresses are generally only covered by insurance companies when an individual has developed bed sores, meaning that in some cases individuals are left to wait for problems to develop before they will receive an item they may know could prevent such sores rather than treating them only afterward.
School districts, hospitals, clinics, and other facilities and organizations, such as hospice, which are required or otherwise inclined to accommodate the individuals they serve, often do not have access to the insurance coverages of those individuals for the purpose of purchasing equipment, meaning that budgets are stretched and equipment sometimes limited due to budgets. Accessibility Medical Equipment makes otherwise unaffordable items available to these facilities and organizations, and either by proxy or directly, to the individuals whom they serve.
Many, many reasons exist why we do what we do, including all of the above and more, but it can really be boiled down into a principle that we don't believe access to appropriate, affordable equipment should be a barrier for seniors and persons with disabilities. While many barriers and challenges persist for many of the individuals who use medical equipment on a regular basis, affordable access to the equipment we do not believe should be one of them.