Hospital beds get an extreme makeover

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

ALPHARETTA, Ga. – If entrepreneur Greg Verlander and cabinetmaker Gary Owens have anything to say about it, that old DME warhorse, the hospital bed, will never look the same again.

The duo has created wooden slip-over head and foot boards that transform a piece of clinical equipment into what looks like high-quality furniture.

Industry consultant Ty Bello ran across the new product from Tendercare Beds at a state association meeting last summer and it wowed him.

“When you put a hospital bed in a home, it goes in one of two places: the living room or the dining room,” Bello said, “They are nicer than what they were just a couple of years ago, but they are still hospital beds. These are just beautiful.”

That’s the goal, said Tendercare’s Verlander.

“It’s top quality,” he said.

Owens built the first unit for his wife.

“She was so depressed when she came home from the hospital—from her illness, but also from having to be in a hospital bed,” Verlander said. “She didn’t want people to visit her; she was embarrassed. Gary said, 'I'm going to make this room look just like a normal room,' and that is where it was born."

Verlander’s mother, who lives in the same small Mississippi town as Owens, introduced the two men.

“She said to Gary, ‘You ought to talk to my son; he’s pretty entrepreneurial.’ When I saw it, I went to my wife and said, ‘Very few times in your life do you have an opportunity to do something that we have an opportunity to do now,” said Verlander.

Tendercare will exhibit the product this month at Medtrade, both in its booth and in the New Product Pavilion. The units are made from poplar, a hard wood, and come in five colors: dark walnut, light walnut, a reddish tint, black and white. They retail for $495.

Providers could also rent the head and footboards for cash to customers who require a hospital bed, Bello said.

“Credit card, cash or whatever,” he said. “I think it is a great add-on product.”