Watch CBS News

How a Maryland program is getting medical equipment to people in need

Got old crutches and wheelchairs? This Maryland program is refurbishing medical equipment for those
Got old crutches and wheelchairs? This Maryland program is refurbishing medical equipment for those 01:43

BALTIMORE -- If you have old crutches and wheelchairs lying around, a Maryland program is asking you to donate them to help people in need.

It's helping people's pockets and the environment.

The Department of Aging started the Maryland Durable Medical Equipment Re-use program three years ago to collect medical equipment, refurbish it, and then give it away for free to people in need.

There are multiple collection sites across the state, including 8 landfills.

So far, the program has collected more than 33,000 pieces of equipment, including walkers, shower chairs, wheelchairs, power scooters, and even home hospital beds.

The program director, Ian Edwards, said most of this equipment has a lifespan of three to five years.

They sanitize and fix them at a warehouse in Prince George's County. Afterwards, they deliver them to 11 different distribution sites.

People in need can schedule an appointment at a location near them to collect an item that caters to their needs.

Edwards said this equipment can set someone back anywhere between a couple hundred dollars to $7,000, especially if it's not covered by insurance. 

"It's knowing that these individuals often times have no other means or limited means and many times when we hear from individuals its they've been looking for days or weeks to find the equipment that they need," he said.

It also helps the environment by reducing waste at landfills. 

Most durable medical equipment cannot break down at landfills. 

For example, many power wheelchairs operate with lithium-ion batteries. But, these batteries cannot be tossed in the trash because transporting them to the landfill can spark fires, according to a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

"The environmental benefit is incredible and it's been a big surprise in part by all the Maryland residents around the state who donated," Edwards said. "It's great because we divert that equipment at the source, at the landfill."

These are some of the items you can donate:

  • Crutches
  • Power wheelchairs
  • Power Scooters
  • Rollators
  • Walkers
  • Shower chairs
  • Tub transfer benches
  • Bedside commodes and toilet safety rails
  • Home hospital beds
  • Mechanical lifts
  • Pediatric equipment

If you want to donate, you can find a collection site near you.

If you want to schedule an appointment to collect an item you need, you can fill out a request form on the agency's website.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.