Central Wisconsin program HELPS with recovery, independence
By Kris Leonhardt
CENTRAL WISCONSIN – A central Wisconsin program is assisting those recovering from injury and those wanting to remain independent through an equipment borrowing strategy.
The Health Equipment Lending Program (HELP) allows northcentral Wisconsin residents to borrow needed assistive equipment for recovery or independence without age, disability or residency restrictions.
This is done through short-term loans at no charge for equipment that may have otherwise ended up in a landfill.
“Used wheelchairs, walkers, knee scooters and crutches often end up in landfills or in the back of someone’s closet. Thanks to volunteers, people are getting a chance to get back on their feet without extra expenses,” said Leanne Severson, an endocrinology nurse with the Marshfield Clinic Health System.
Severson recently nominated the program and was granted funds through Security Health Plan’s Employee-Driven Corporate Giving Program.
Each month Security Health Plan awards a $1,000 grant to a different charity or organization nominated by Marshfield Clinic Health System employees who are encouraged to nominate organizations making a “positive difference” in the community.
The HELP program is coordinated through the Good News Project, a Wausau-based organization that works toward “Fulfilling needs at home and abroad through meaningful service opportunities.”
“Good News Project is known for their motto: ‘Be the Good.’ The organizers of this group really love what they do and the communities they serve. They’re eco-conscious and give so much of themselves to help others,” added Severson.
Good News Project Executive Director Christine Daniels said the HELP program allows people with limited or no health insurance, or those who are unable to qualify for government assistance, the ability to access the tools and equipment they need to recover or live independently.
“The independence that it offers is invaluable. People are so grateful. They are often able to stay in their homes with family instead of a facility. If we can continue to work together as a community it makes the community stronger and healthier,” Daniels stated.
The HELP program began in 2005 for those with limited income, little or no insurance or the inability to qualify for Medicare or Medicaid, through a realization that at some time everyone will need assistive devices, such as wheelchairs, walkers, canes, crutches, hospital beds and bath chairs.
There are no requirements for borrowing, but a loan agreement must be completed to obtain the equipment and monetary donations are suggested.
The Good News website said that “bariatric equipment, like wheelchairs, commodes, bath benches, walkers are always in need. These are heavy-duty pieces of home medical equipment, designed for those people who weigh 300 pounds or more.
“The top requested items in 2021 from our lending closet were knee scooters, bath benches, and hospital beds.”
The program is always seeking equipment donations.
Volunteers repair and sanitize the medical equipment before it is loaned back into the community.
They also get many requests for working lift chairs.
“Since these items cannot be sanitized like our other loaned equipment, we make these available for purchase at a fair price. The chairs must be in working condition, be free from major stains and come from a non-smoking home,” the website stated.
To learn more about the program’s current needs, visit www.goodnewswi.com/wish-list-ecycle.
For more information on equipment loans, call (715) 843-5985 or visit www.goodnewswi.com.