Volunteer puts HME to good use

Thursday, May 24, 2012

PORTAGE, Mich. – After working at similar organizations in Arizona earlier in his life, John Hilliard wondered if people in his new home of southwest Michigan needed home medical equipment, but couldn’t afford it. In 2005, he started Lending Hands  and in April, he received the 2012 Volunteer Manager of the Year STAR (Sharing Time and Resources) Award. Hilliard recently told HME News about the importance of HME to seniors who use his program. 

HME News: How did you know there was a need for your program?

John Hilliard: We did research before this all started. We found there were a limited number of loan programs and they were limited in what they had to offer. People in the healthcare field told us that patients who couldn’t afford the equipment they needed had nowhere else to turn.

HME: How does it all work?

Hilliard: Patients can order online or call us and leave a message. Sometimes (HME) suppliers will refer patients to us if they only need the equipment for a few weeks. We’ve saved people $2.5 million over the past seven years, not to mention what we’ve saved in healthcare costs.

HME: What are some of the most needed items?

Hilliard: The No. 1 piece of equipment people need is bath seats. They also need reachers, sock aids and dressing aids. A lot of these things aren’t covered by insurance. 

HME: Where does the equipment you lend come from?

Hilliard: Most of it is donated by the public or healthcare organizations. We check it over and make repairs, and we clean and sanitize it. 

HME: What kind of difference does it make in people’s lives to have this equipment? 

Hilliard: There are definitely a lot of people in need in the community. They’re discharged from the hospital more quickly than before, and this helps them get back on their feet so they don’t have to go back to the hospital.