Stuart Jones, assistive technology
specialist II with Assistive Technology for
Kansans, shows some of the durable
medical equipment donated to the Kansas
Equipment Exchange access site.
(Photo by Jan Biles/ Topeka Capital-Journal)
If you have higher-end, lightly used durable medical equipment and are wondering what to do with it, don't cart it to the curb for trash pickup. The Kansas Equipment Exchange may be able to refurbish it for use by someone in need.
KEE, a statewide program that assists residents in obtaining durable medical equipment at no charge, is affiliated with Assistive Technology for Kansans, a statewide project coordinated by The University of Kansas Center on Disabilities in Parsons.
"The Kansas Equipment Exchange is a reuse program," said Sara Sack, director of both Assistive Technology for Kansans and KEE. "Kansas has become well known for the reuse (of durable medical equipment). Last year alone, 22 other states interested (in starting a program) called for technical assistance or support."
Sack said KEE was established in 2003 as a result of the Kansas Legislature's efforts to save money by trimming Medicaid costs. During a meeting, she said, a legislator asked if there was a way to collect, track and reuse durable medical equipment rather than buying new items each year for Medicaid recipients.
Since its founding, she said, KEE has saved more than $4 million of taxpayers' money.
Here is how the exchange works: KEE accepts donations of higher-end, lightly used durable medical equipment, including manual and powered wheelchairs, communication devices, hospital beds, gait trainers, aluminum entry ramps, feeding pumps and specialized car seats.
The equipment, which is cleaned and refurbished, is entered into a database so it can be matched with those in need. When the recipient no longer needs the equipment, it returns to KEE and becomes available to someone else to use.
"We have a long waiting list," Sack said, adding the turnaround time of equipment is pretty fast. "We had over 1,200 requests last year, and we were able to reassign 806 items valued at nearly $1 million. We had 900 devices donated that were valued at $1.2 million."
From July through September this year, KEE received 397 requests of equipment, took in 228 donations valued at $283,447 and reassigned 220 items worth $221,171.
Sack said ATK/KEE has six access sites in Kansas where people can pick up or donate higher-end, lightly used durable medical equipment: Topeka, Oakley, Salina, Wichita, Parsons and Garden City.
The Topeka access site is in the Resource Center for Independent Living at 1507 S.W. 21st. The site's service area includes Atchison, Brown, Doniphan, Douglas, Franklin, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Leavenworth, Miami, Osage, Shawnee and Wyandotte counties.
Stuart Jones, assistive technology specialist at the Topeka site, said items needed in northeast Kansas include bariatric equipment, hospital beds, feeding pumps, chargers for power devices, manual wheelchairs and dynamic communication devices, such as touch-screen DynaVox products.
"And we're always looking for volunteers to help move the equipment," he said.
Those needing equipment can go to ATK's website at www.atk.ku.edu to view the types of equipment in stock. Jones said items remaining in the system for more than 120 days without being matched are transferred to loan banks coordinated by social services agencies or nonprofit organizations.
Sack said those with a disability or health condition who need durable medical equipment to stay in their home or for health reasons can contact ATK/KEE at (800) 526-3648. Those in northeast Kansas also can call (785) 267-1717.