DURABLE MEDICAL EQUIPMENT AID SOCIETY via Crowdrise
August 22, 2011
BENEFITING: DURABLE MEDICAL EQUIPMENT AID SOCIETY
Thousands of people in Los Angeles County have no access to durable medical equipment, such as wheelchairs, in-home hospital beds, walkers, crutches, etc., that they need to recover from illnesses or injuries, or to cope with on-going or recurring physical disabilities. Low incomes and lack of medical insurance, which contribute to significant health disparities, also create barriers to recovery when they deny people the resources necessary for recovery. In the city of Los Angeles, almost one out of every five people (19.1%) lives in poverty, earning $10,830 or less annually, and the rate escalates to one in four (24.2%) in East Los Angeles (U.S. Census). In Senate District 22, which includes substantial parts of Central, South, and East Los Angeles, the percentage of uninsured residents exceeds 32%, totaling approximately 280,000 people age 0-64 (The California Endowment 2010). While the high poverty rate challenges our target population to meet basic needs of food and shelter, lack of medical insurance compounds the challenge, translating into an almost insurmountable struggle to secure adequate medical services, or to recover from illness or injury.
There is an urgent need among low-income and uninsured residents for access to durable medical equipment. Three retired health care managers—representing extensive experience with the County of Los Angeles Department of Health Services—founded The DME in 2010 when they recognized the critical need in their communities: the need for specialized durable medical equipment for low-income people with medical conditions or physical disabilities to use in their homes. Our founders reviewed a successful durable medical equipment loan program operated since 1923 in Pasadena. Because this organization does not extend its services to areas beyond the San Gabriel Valley, there is a large, unmet need in many other areas of Los Angeles County, including communities that are home to high percentages of low-income, uninsured people. The DME founders designed a program to offer services to all geographic areas of the County, with a focus on areas of high need. The Durable Medical Equipment Aid Society (The DME) has established a program that will fulfill the mission "to offer a free loan program of durable medical equipment to individuals living in Los Angeles communities who lack the necessary financial resources or medical insurance to secure medical equipment needed to assist in their recovery from an illness or injury."
We have contacted numerous medical groups and providers who have stated that they will promote our program through donations of used equipment for our inventory. ThrouThThrough our outreach to the public via Facebook and our website (www.thedme.org), and through partnerships and cooperative agreements with local medical groups and other organizations, our staff and volunteers have begun to collect donations of used durable medical equipment, including lightweight wheelchairs in adult and youth sizes, in-home hospital beds, walkers, canes, crutches, commodes, shower benches, toilet seats, and bedside tables. We inspect, repair, and sanitize the equipment. Once we increase our inventory of equipment, we can expand our loan of equipment to low-income, uninsured residents of Los Angeles County. Individuals will be able to apply for equipment by completing a simple application, available on our website (www.thedme.org). The DME will loan equipment to clients on a monthly basis at no cost, although a small annual administrative/delivery fee may be requested. For those who cannot afford even this fee, assistance will be offered through local faith-based organizations. No one in need of equipment will be denied the loan of equipment. Each month that the client still has a need for the equipment, the loan can be extended for an additional month by a simple phone call.
The DME’s programs will be sustained through donations, fundraising events, grants, administrative fees, and support from organizations and agencies that share our mission and serve our target population. We are confident that our organization will be financially stable once we are fully operational, based on extensive outreach to medical providers, community organizations, and individuals who have assured us that support will be forthcoming. In addition, we are pursuing grant funding from numerous foundations with which our request might resonate.