LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - From wheelchairs to walkers, hospital beds and crutches, medical equipment is something most of us will need one day or have already used.
That is why a community Loaner Closet opened a few years ago through the Southwest Louisiana Independence Center in Lake Charles, with lots of pieces ready to be loaned and a couple of specific needs to restock.
"We have potty chairs, bedside potties, we have walkers of various different types, crutches, we have [adult] diapers, wheelchairs," said SLIC marketing and public relations director, Gwynn Houston.
Houston has seen the difference something like a walker can make in the life of someone with a mobility need.
"On a regular basis, I see people with tears in their eyes and sometimes on a regular basis, people with tears streaming down their cheeks," said Houston. "They say, 'I don't know what I would've done if the Loaner Closet hadn't been here.'"
SLIC's Loaner Closet opened a few years ago after staffers like Houston kept answering phone calls from people asking how to find affordable medical equipment.
"We knew the community would be gracious and generous when we included them," said Houston, "and people started bringing items to us and now it's history. It has caught on."
People have donated their gently used equipment after a surgery or injury and many people have donated after the death of a loved one.
"One way that you can honor that person is to bring their medical equipment to us and we can turn around and donate it to people in need," said Houston. "It just leaves you with a good feeling as a family member. You're pleased that the equipment has done this."
Anyone is welcome to use the community Loaner Closet. The only requirements are that you present a Louisiana photo ID and social security card. If you are in need of a wheelchair, you must also have a prescription from your physician.
"Sometimes the doctor will tell a patient, 'I want you to get plenty of exercise, I want you to walk' and they don't want to abide by that," said Houston. "So for their best interest, for their health purposes, we say please give us a prescription from your doctor."
That is all you need to tap into the Loaner Closet.
To keep it going, you can always donate! The most needed items right now are wheelchairs and shower chairs.