July 19, 2024

Health Mettler Institute

Healthy LifeStyle & Education

Charlie’s Closet a lifeline for those who need medical equipment

Charlie’s Closet a lifeline for those who need medical equipment

That is Charlie’s Closet, the nonprofit clinical tools clearinghouse under the umbrella of Guilford Interfaith Volunteers (GIV) that’s been getting donations of thoroughly clean, gently made use of medical gear and earning it accessible to whoever needs it for the very last 25 a long time.

There has but to be a silver anniversary celebration. They’re too fast paced, it appears.

Past 7 days, director Tony Sicignano and his crew finished shipping and delivery their fifth truckload of crutches, canes, walkers, and bandages to St. Michael’s Ukrainian Church in New Haven for the war work. They did the very same for earthquake-ravaged Haiti in 2010, as nicely as for Tibet and Jamaica. Sicignano claimed he expects that Turkey and Syria will soon be included to the checklist.

They’ve occur by nearer to home as nicely.
All through the pandemic, they furnished clinic beds and wheelchairs for people wanting to pull their relatives out of nursing properties, according to Sicignano. 

With an normal of 20 to 40 requests a day for machines, “we’re far more well-liked than ever,” Sicignano mentioned.

That is backed up by Christi Burton, director of GIV, which Meals on Wheels, Friendly Traveling to, and Guilford Food stuff Financial institution. 

“It’s likely the busiest of all our services simply because not quite a few other businesses can do what they do,” she claimed. 

It all begun in 1998 when Guilford’s Charlie McGowan arrived by the workplace of the Guilford Interfaith Ministries in research of an electrical stair elevate for a neighbor identified with ALS.

When the personnel found a stair elevate at an auction household, it strike them, volunteer Gwen Fletcher instructed the New Haven Sign-up in 2018.

“If a single individual desperately necessary equipment and did not know exactly where to go, how numerous more were there?”

From then on, “people have been coming in,” mentioned Sicignano, seated on a shower chair amid stacks of mattresses, collections of canes, and groups of walkers in the smooth light of the sawdust-smelling barn.

“These are folks who locate them selves at a particularly hard time in their lives, for the reason that their insurance policies organization will not address the value for tools, Medicare will refuse to pay, or they just do not have insurance policies or the wherewithal to purchase it,” he said. 

There are selected regulations governing Charlie’s Closet. Most of them involve the phrase “no.”

There are no revenue specifications. No geographic limitations. No red tape. No concerns questioned. 

Then there’s the price tag of the health-related machines. It has not budged from 1998. From a medical center bed to a wheelchair to a cane, the expense is a single dollar.

A number of points have altered above the many years. 

There are the items of devices that Charlie’s Closet lends out just about every 12 months. It is risen from 2,100 in 2009 to 5,800 in 2017. Over the previous few many years, it’s stayed continual, with figures ranging from 6,000 to 7,000 pieces, according to Sicignano. 

That’s arguably no speculate, with more mature Individuals just one of the fastest expanding demographics, according to the Administration for Community Living and, as the AARP.org documented in November 2022, “77 p.c of adults 50 and more mature want[ing] to keep on being in their households for the prolonged expression.” 

That implies, Sicignano mentioned, “more hip surgical procedures, knee surgical procedures, and other surgical procedures. That implies more persons will need to have much more tools.”

A further change is the protocols for cleansing equipment instituted during the pandemic. “It modified considerably,” reported Sicignano, introducing that they proceed to use a three-part option that they spray on all the things. 

Most likely much more considerable is the prerequisite of earning appointments. 

“That was out of requirement,” he explained. “We experienced to maintain people staggered likely in. Prior to that, you came in every time you wished to.” 

That led to an unexpected reward. 

“Now we had a couple minutes the place folks could appear in and we could speak to them about their needs,” he stated. 

That indicates volunteers like Pam Rowling, a retired occupational therapist, and physical therapist Ellyn Higgins can advise people on the correct variety of equipment. 

“We also have a social worker, a nurse, a radiation therapist,” Sicignano said. “I’m blessed with these volunteers with past expertise who can sit and chat to the human being, even if it is just for two minutes, telling them ‘I comprehend what you are wanting for, allow me advise this.’”

There are two women who are retired lawyers. “One of them just cleans and the other responses telephones,” she mentioned. 

Then there is Joe Secki of Killingworth. “He arrived in just one day and claimed ‘I’m retired’ and I said how useful are you and he informed he was really experienced,” Sicignano recalled. “He has a fantastic character, nothing at all frustrates him, he just will come in and claims ‘what do you will need preset.’”

The most significant obstacle “is when another person arrives in and I don’t have that gear,” he stated, including that the most requested goods are wheelchairs, transport chairs, commodes, and shower chairs. 

“That’s the toughest element, and it is also tough when another person will come in and they are owning to assistance a child mainly because we never usually get pediatric things.”

That reported, “I’ve experienced persons phone me and say ‘I need to have this’ and I tell them I do not have it, and 5 minutes later, a person phone calls up and states ‘hey, I received this merchandise I really do not need to have anymore,’ and it is what the past particular person was wanting for,” he reported.

“And it normally generally astounds me when that happens and it transpires a lot more than you assume it would,” he claimed. 

“You could say this was the operate of God, or kismet. I simply cannot reveal it. All I know is I’m so happy when it transpires.”  

Charlie’s Closet is situated on 310 Condition Street, Device 200, Guilford and is open from 9:00 am to 12 midday Monday via Friday. To make appointment for devices donations and decide on-ups (appointments only), connect with 203-453-8359. 

For far more information, check out https://givct.org/charlies-closet/.

Lisa Reisman may possibly be arrived at at [email protected].