STEPS NEWS & BLOG

Innovative not-for-profit library for durable medical equipment (DME)

20 Oct Wheel It Forward: Borrow & Donate Durable Medical Equipment

 

Wheel It Forward is an innovative not-for-profit library for durable medical equipment (DME), offering a convenient destination for Fairfield and Westchester County seniors to easily borrow or donate DME at no cost.

Founder and Stamford, CT resident Elliot Sloyer was inspired to start Wheel It Forward after he visited an organization in Israel called Yad Sarah, which is a 40 year-old DME loan service run by 6,000 volunteers. Last year, Yad Sarah loaned out close to 400,000 pieces of DME to  a population of 8 million people in Israel. 

According to Elliot, "Everyone qualifies if you live within our service area which includes Greater Fairfield County and neighboring towns in Westchester County, including Armonk, Bedford and Pound Ridge."

DME, as well as the terms, Home Medical Equipment (HME) and home healthcare equipment, are used interchangeably. They refer to re-usable, long lasting, medical equipment for use in the home that helps individuals to function on a daily basis. This includes mechanical items, such as wheelchairs, walkers, commodes, and handrails, and electrical items like hospital beds, scooters, blood and glucose monitors, ventilators, and nebulizers.

The Problem 

As more Americans are aging in place and living at home, there has been an increased need for elderly to buy DME. Last year, Americans spent approximately $55 billion on durable medical equipment in the U.S.  15% of that, over $8 billion, is paid for directly out-of-the-pocket of consumers. 

Wheelchair and Walker Pic

The average piece of DME has a life span of over five years, but is used for only four months.  This leads to a large supply of slightly used DME that ends up in garages, attics or worse - landfills. At the same time, out-of-pocket costs for DME are proportionately four times higher than OOP costs for prescription drugs making DME unaffordable for many.  Wheel It Forward is a branded library where the huge supply of lightly used DME can meet the even greater demand.


The Solution - Wheel It Forward

The Mission is to create, template and operate a branded lending library where people who need DME can borrow it, and where people who have lightly used DME can conveniently donate it to benefit others, and the environment.

The Vision is to change the way Americans from all socio-economic backgrounds think about the availability, use, and reuse of DME - thereby improving quality of life, saving hundreds of millions of dollars, and keeping billions of pounds of DME out of landfills.

Elliot with donated donated Durable Medical Equipment at his home.
 
According to Elliot, "Based on our research in the U.S., there are fewer than 250,000 pieces of DME loaned to people in our population of over 325 million people.  When we returned, we saw the need and the incredible opportunity to introduce Wheel It Forward to assist so many people in need and save society a tremendous amount of money.  And not to mention that is a win-win for recycling used equipment and sustainability too!"
 
Wheel It Forward Launched In Elliot's Garage
 
After his trip to Israel, Elliot began to network locally with rehab and hospice nurses 
and filled his two car garage with like-new and brand new DME within a month. His wife was not thrilled about parking outdoors during the 
winter months, but she understood the value of what they were doing.
 
Wheel It Forward was recently incorporated and their team includes a hard working group of founding board members and other volunteers that are now working socially distanced out of the Government Center building in Stamford, CT. 
 
 "At first, I didn't intend on lending anything out until we formed the organization, but people started to find me and desperately needed wheelchairs, hospital beds, knee scooters etc... and I couldn't say no," added Elliot.
 Wheel It Forward Moves to the Government Building in Stamford
 
While it is just a startup to date, the Wheel It Forward team is currently building the technology and processes with the goal of eventually sharing them with other communities who are looking to have the same type of resource in their communities. 

How To Donate Equipment

  • Complete a Donate Equipment form on the website or call them at (203) 652-8600 to ask questions.
  • Items they accept include Wheelchairs, Hospital Beds, Rollators, Bath Chairs, Hoyer Lifts, Toilet Risers, Knee Scooters, etc. 
  • Pickup and/or deliver of equipment may be possible and please consider making a small donation for this service.
  • The easiest way to make a cash donation to support their volunteer powered community library is to go to the website and click on the Donate Now button. Tax Receipts are available for all donations, cash or equipment.

How to Borrow Equipment

  • Simply visit their website to join the library and select equipment you need from the inventory (up to 3 items). Everyone qualifies if you live within our service area which includes Greater Fairfield County and neighboring towns in Westchester County including Armonk, Bedford and Pound Ridge. 
  • You can borrow DME at no cost but they ask that you consider making a suggested donation to help ensure the viability of the community library.  
  • They lend out well maintained equipment and use best practices to sanitize it using hospital grade germicidal products.  
  • Their DME loans are meant to be short term - ideally four months or less.
  • To borrow equipment you need to provide a co-signer and sign a liability waiver which is on the website.

Overview of Payment for New DME

DME is defined as medically necessary for a patient.  Private health insurance plans are not required to cover DME, but many do, so you'll need to check with your plan provider. If your coverage does include it, you will typically need to get a prescription from your doctor.

Link to this "Paying for Senior Care" article for more information on how Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance cover DME and how you can maximize the assistance you receive from insurance coverage, find other forms of financial assistance, and minimize out-of-pocket spending on DME.

If you have any questions about obtaining DME for a loved one, an assessment to see what they need or how to buy, rent or borrow from Wheel It Forward, please contact our STEPS Home Care at (914) 618-4200 or info@stepshomecare.com.


Common Home Medical Equipment Costs

Common Home Medical Equipment for the Elderly

Cost Range

Blood Glucose Monitors

$25 - $120

Blood Pressure Monitor

$75 - $150

Continuous Passive Motion Unit

$1,000 - $2,000

Cough Assist Devices

$5,000

Home Dialysis Machines and Supplies

$10,000

Hospital Beds

$500 - $5,000

Infusion Pumps

$500 - $1,000

Nebulizers

$50 - $100

Ostomy Supplies

$80 - 100 / month

Oximeter

$20 - $60

Oxygen Concentrators

$600 - $2,000

Positive Airway Pressure Devices

$500 - $3,000

Transfer Benches

$75 - $300

Walkers

$50 - $700

 

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