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Q&A: DME Exchange

Q&A: DME Exchange

Dallas may have the highest rate of uninsured residents in the country, and DME Exchange of Dallas, a nonprofit organization that collects, refurbishes and redistributes DME, is on a mission to help the city's most vulnerable. Executive Director Betty Hersey recently spoke with HME News about access issues and DME Exchange's role in the community.

HME News: Who uses your services?

Betty Hersey: The people we serve, we're the last stop. We serve people who have no insurance, and right now in Dallas, 25,000 to 50,000 people do not have access to DME. We provide equipment free of charge to people who have a doctor's prescription, proof that they don't have insurance, are 200% below the poverty line, and live in Dallas County, but as our resources grow, we also plan to service the northern part of the state.

HME: What's your most in-demand item?

Hersey: We are always behind on manual wheelchairs. As soon as we get one in, we clean it up and it goes back out. We're always out of rollators, shower chairs and tub transfer benches. And sometimes we'll be out of hospital beds and sometimes we'll have more than we can handle.

HME: How do you get the call for DME out?

Hersey: Workers—particularly in hospitals and eldercare facilities—don't stay very long and as a result you always have to go back and reacquaint yourself with them. A lot of times, if someone passes away or leaves the facility, they (or the family) just leave the equipment behind and say, “Give it to somebody else.” So we usually call and try to obtain it from them because it's going to go in the trash if you don't.

HME: What would happen to the community without DME Exchanged?

Hersey: Before we came on board, people were stuck in the hospital until someone could find them some DME, so it was adding to their bill, which they already couldn't pay. It was also adding to the social workers' hours because they were on the phone trying to find someone who would lend or give some DME. There are stories of people being in the hospital for weeks after they could have been discharged. We saved Parkland Memorial Hospital $167,000 last year and that's just one hospital. HME


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