Home Equipment Loan Program has New Phone Number, New Home at Mt. Si Senior Center

For nearly ten years, the Home Equipment Loan Program (HELP) in the Snoqualmie Valley has solved specific problems for area residents.

Do you need a wheelchair while you recuperate from knee surgery or bathroom safety equipment for a houseguest with limited mobility? You’ll find it at HELP, at no cost, although donations are accepted.

“Monetary donations are encouraged, and they can keep the equipment as long as they need it, even if that’s forever,” says Susan Lord, HELP Coordinator.

HELP began as a program of Snoqualmie Valley Hospital, supplying community members with loans of donated home equipment. This year, the program was relocated to Mt. Si Senior Center, which hosts HELP in partnership with Bridge Ministries in Bellevue. Bridge Ministries collects, cleans, repairs and distributes donated home equipment.

Lord meets with clients at Mt. Si Senior Center by appointment and manages the equipment loans. Equipment can be returned to Mt. Si or program partner Sno-Valley Senior Center.

“We are glad to be able to support this important program for the community,” said Mt. Si Senior Center Executive Director Susan Kingsbury-Comeau. “Mt. Si Senior Center is already a hub for services and supports for older adults, so it just makes sense to host this service here.”

Equipment that HELP can provide includes manual and transport wheelchairs, front-wheel and four-wheel walkers, canes, bedside commodes, tub transfer benches, and other less common equipment. It’s a valuable and economical service for many residents, she said, since insurance doesn’t always cover these items, which can cost several hundred dollars out of pocket.

“Most insurance, especially Medicare, does not cover any type of bathroom equipment,” she said. A new bedside commode can cost $40-$200, “but through the donation process, people can get it for much less.”

Lord, now retired, has managed the program since its start at Snoqualmie Valley Hospital in December 2014. Her expertise from years of working as an Occupational Therapy Assistant at the hospital is helpful to clients who are new to needing home health equipment, such as residents expecting a houseguest with mobility issues. Much of the time, she said, people will call for an appointment with a list of recommended supplies from their surgeons or physical therapists.

The personal nature of some of the equipment does prompt people to ask about cleanliness, and Lord said the pandemic did reduce people’s interest in borrowing used equipment.

However, she said Bridge “has a specific process where each piece of equipment is thoroughly sanitized…. They have a machine called a Hubscrub that they load all the equipment into. It includes disinfection and 10 minutes of soaking.”

Appointments are required for borrowing equipment. Participants can call the program’s new phone number, 425-499-2968, to schedule an appointment. They are asked to provide basic demographic information so the program can report on who it serves, and then they work with Lord to choose the equipment they need.

People using HELP are encouraged, when picking up their items, to make monetary donations, which go directly to Bridge Ministries. The donations support the entire process of equipment loans, which includes cleaning and sanitation, repairs, and multiple inspections before the equipment is cleared for loaning out.

“They can keep it as long as they need it,” she said, then simply return the items to Mt. Si Senior Center or Sno-Valley Senior Center during their regular business hours.

Mt. Si Senior Center is located at 411 Main Ave. S., North Bend.

Sno-Valley Senior Center is located at 4610 Stephens Ave., Carnation. For more information, call 425-499-2968.

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