Providers open wallets for lung patient

Friday, October 31, 2008

HELENA, Mont.--Oxygen patient Julia Roberson made some unlikely friends in the HME community recently.

The seven-year-old Illinois resident, who suffers from Children’s Interstitial Lung Disease, caught the attention of Bob Sherman, president of the Big Sky Association of Medical Equipment Suppliers, while she was trying to raise $1,500 to participate in a Hike for Lung Health held Sept. 21 in Chicago.

Roberson’s story struck a chord with Sherman.

“Congress looks at oxygen patients as old smokers who did it to themselves,” he said. “That’s just not the case all the time. There’s a bigger picture.”

Sherman rallied Big Sky members for donations at the association’s annual convention in September and “in about 30 seconds, we had $1,200,” he said.

Hot on the heels of that success, Big Sky challenged the Illinois Association of Medical Equipment Suppliers (IAMES) to match their donations. At press time, IAMES had yet to formally reply, but member Barbara Bishov, CFO of Quality Healthcare Equipment in Arlington Heights, Ill., was confident the association would rise to the occasion.

“It’s always fun to beat someone at their own game,” she said.

Meanwhile, Big Sky is looking for a similar cause closer to home, said Montana chair Mike Calcaterra. It’s the right thing to do, and it presents an opportunity for the industry to garner some favorable attention, he said.

“We would like to do something like this that is ongoing, and maybe get some publicity out of it at the same time,” he said.