(Posted Aug. 5, 2021)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
Several weeks ago, London resident Ruthanne Johnson had surgery. For her recovery at home, she needed a walker, a cane, and other medical equipment. She didn’t need to go far–or spend money–to get that equipment.
She simply turned to Carolyn Garver, a fellow member of London First Presbyterian Church, who runs the Health Equipment Loan Ministry (HELM) at the church.
“It was really nice to know the equipment was available–and free. It really came in handy for the needs that I had,” said Johnson, who has since returned the equipment.
Garver collects and loans out a wide array of medical equipment, not just to church members but to anyone anywhere who has a need. Hospital beds, wheelchairs, walkers, bedside commodes, raised toilet seats, shower chairs, orthopedic equipment, wound care equipment, canes, crutches–you name it, and she probably has it.
“I don’t rent it or lease it. I just loan it,” Garver said. “There’s no cost to the individual. They can keep it as long as they need it. I just ask that when they are finished with it, they return it. It can be anywhere from a week to a year or more.”
Garver started the ministry in 2018, a couple of years after moving to London from Greeneville, Ohio. Prior to the move, she volunteered then served as assistant manager for a medical equipment loan ministry in Covington.
“People were coming from Dayton, Columbus, Springfield, Lima–all over–for equipment,” she said.
The person in charge of the Covington ministry suggested Garver start her own ministry once she settled in London to make access to free medical equipment easier for more people in the region.
“I started by putting a notice in the church bulletin, asking for unneeded equipment,” Garver said.
Her fellow parishioners stepped up.
“I have a bunch now,” she said.
The church and donors also have been gracious in providing storage space for the ministry, said Garver who cleans and sanitizes the equipment and makes sure it works before loaning it out. In addition to equipment, she also offers supplies such as adult diapers.
She noted that larger items, including hospital beds, wheelchairs and some walkers, require a doctor’s or therapist’s note. The other items do not.
“A friend of mine’s brother-in-law was having a hard time getting in and out of bed. He was sleeping on an air mattress on the floor. She came to me and asked to borrow a hospital bed. He got a doctor’s note. She said it’s been a lifesaver,” Garver said.
To learn more about HELM, borrow equipment, or donate equipment, call London First Presbyterian Church, (740) 852-1215, or email Garver at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Garver also welcomes monetary donations to cover the cost of cleaning supplies and to fill requests for equipment she does not have. Donations made out to HELM can be mailed to the church, 211 Garfield Ave., London OH 43140.