Hospital plans drive for 'New Beginnings'

New Beginnings Director Kathy Grogan, right, stands beside Stacey Gillette of Mercy-Jefferson Hospital, who is heading up a medical equipment drive for the Bonne-Terre-based non-profit organization. New Beginnings provides the free use of medical equipment to those who would otherwise not be able to afford it. The drive takes place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 16 with locations in Farmington, De Soto and Festus.

New Beginnings, a Bonne Terre-based non-profit organization that provides the free use of medical equipment to people with financial and medical needs is about to receive some much-needed help from Mercy Hospital-Jefferson's Acute Rehabilitation Unit (ARU).

According to Stacey Gillette, a medical social worker at the hospital, the help is coming in the form of a Durable Medical Equipment Drive that will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 16 at locations in Farmington, De Soto and Festus.

"I've been working at Mercy-Jefferson for two years now and New Beginnings Director Kathy Grogan helps quite a few of my patients out," she said. "Usually when I see a patient who needs something they can't afford, I'll call Kathy and I'll run down and get it for them so the patient has the equipment whenever they leave the hospital.

"We've been trying to find a way to partner with New Beginnings in a way to get her more equipment since a lot of our patients use her service. Well, there's legal issues and we really didn't know what to do. One day I said, 'What if we have a medical equipment drive?' and it just kind of took off from there."

Asked what the drive will mean for New Beginnings, Grogan said, "It's all the difference in the world. As of today we have no wheelchairs to go out — they're all out. We have no transport chairs. We need bedside commodes and shower seats or shower benches. All the ones we have are already spoken for. When Stacey arrived today, she had five walkers, five rollators and two canes — and that's before the drive even starts."

Grogan admitted that New Beginnings can use just about any equipment that is donated.

"The demand is so great," she said. "We have hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of pieces of equipment out, but there's so much now that insurance doesn't cover. Even people who have coverage a lot of times the co-pay and deductible is so high they just can't do it — and sometimes there's multiple equipment that they need.

"It's not just for the indigent. It's not just for the uninsured. There are a lot of people who have worked hard, planned well, saved well, but a medical issue for them, their spouse or somebody in their family literally wipes out what they've been working decades for. We have people who come in here in tears because they've never had to ask for anything before.

"We have people that are very financially stable that are having a knee replacement, hip replacement — something like that — and they'll get the equipment through here as long as we have whatever it is. They'll make a donation when they pick it up and some make another donation when they bring it back. They figure it's good for them and it's wonderful for the program."

According to Grogan, some people who want to make a donation of equipment are concerned they might need it themselves later.

"If they need it, they can call us and if we don't have it we will do our best to get it," she said. "If they donated it, we will do our best to make sure they don't have to go buy it."

Gillette explained why being able to provide medical equipment to Mercy patients is so important.

"Working on the Acute Rehabilitation Unit at Mercy-Jefferson, one of these pieces of equipment can mean the patient can go home," she said. "Having the equipment makes all the difference of being able to go home or have to go to a skilled nursing facility for more therapy to get them stronger. To go home is what most patients ideally want. We have sent a lot of patients home that would have had to go to a skilled nursing facility otherwise.

The drive locations include: Mercy Clinic, 620 Maple Valley Drive, Farmington; Mercy Therapy Services, 702 N. Main St., De Soto; and Mercy Therapy Services, 1390 South U.S. 61, Festus.

For additional information, contact Gillette at 636-933-1664 or email her at Stacey.gillette@mercy.net.

Kevin Jenkins is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3614 or kjenkins@dailyjournalonline.com

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