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Sep 27, 2012 08:50AM

Second life: ReStore finds new homes for used health equipment


By Leon Lagerstam and Laura Anderson Shaw
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Gary Krambeck
Beth Laureijs, co-manager of ReStore Health and Home, left, Cindy Kuhn, director of ReStore, and Mary Slutz, co-manager of ReStore Health and Home, show a scooter and a rollator at the new store, 3629 Mississippi Avenue, Davenport.
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When her father passed away, Mary Slutz and her family couldn't figure out what to do with all of the medical equipment that was left behind. So it went to a landfill.

Now, families in similar situations have a better option. Medical goods such as used wheelchairs, walkers, canes, crutches, hospital bed frames, bath benches, unopened prepacked supplies such as bandages and more can venture to new homes through the newly-opened Health & Home division of Habitat For Humanity's ReStore Quad Cities.

Co-manager Beth Laureijs says Habitat ReStore director Cindy Kuhn developed the idea for the health and home division after noticing an increase of donated walkers, canes and similar medical supplies.

Slutz, who also is a co-manager at the store, says Kuhn has a true passion for recycling everything she can. Health & Home "is in keeping with that passion," Slutz says. "She had wondered how much of this medical equipment got thrown away that could have been saved and recycled.

"Now, everyone benefits," she says. "People who need but can't find items can get them from us, and the people who donate these items will know they won't end up in a landfill, and can earn some tax credits."

Slutz says health care costs are rising and insurers are cutting back. "People needing this equipment are looking for ways to stretch their health care dollars," Slutz says. "At the same time, many in the community have equipment that is no longer needed, but is still in very good condition."

"It's a feel-good thing all the way around," Laureijs says.

Many items, too, such as the bath benches, also allow seniors to be safe and live longer in their own homes, Laureijs says.

Shoppers have been impressed with the store, Laureijs says, as they come in and look around. There has been a "very positive response," she says.

The co-managers say they have received very positive feedback from groups they have spoken to about the new store, too. "They see a real need for lower-priced medical items, and for used items to have a second life," Slutz says.

Slutz says that the new ReStore Health & Home division is not trying to compete with other durable goods manufacturers, sellers, agencies or churches that have their own loan closets. It just wants to be another source people can use to find medical supplies they need at low costs.

The ReStore Health & Home division has its own entrance and hours. Customers can enter from the west side of the ReStore building at 3629 Mississippi Ave., Suite B, Davenport. Hours are noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Pick-ups also can be scheduled by calling (563) 391-4949.

Donations may be brought to the original ReStore division from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays; 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Wednesdays; and 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturdays. Donations are tax deductible.

Items must be in good, clean, working condition, Laureijs says. "If something comes in that, for even the slightest reason, we don't trust, we're not going to sell it."

Not accepted are broken, rusted or stained items, or those that are missing parts; oxygen meters, syringes or other items requiring a doctor's order; anything that needs calibrating, such as CPAP machines, electronic blood-pressure equipment, or glucose strips; anything once inserted into a body or that carried bodily fluids, such as oxygen tubing, masks or catheters; and mattresses.

"We've carefully consulted with the Centers of Disease Prevention and Control," Slutz says, adding that one volunteer worker also completed a special electric-wheelchair-repair training program.

Profits from the Health & Home division go toward Habitat for Humanity, so not only are shoppers reusing items and getting good deals, Laureijs says, they're "supporting a great cause."

Leon Lagerstam and Laura Anderson Shaw are reporters for The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus. For more information about Habitat ReStore Quad Cities or the Health & Home division, visit restoreqc.org.








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