The Chilliwack Red Cross is urging former users of its Medical Equipment Loan Service to return over $10,000 of overdue equipment.
The volunteer-run program provides short-term loans of medical equipment, by donation, to people living with mobility limitations or recovering from surgery or injury.
As of last week, though, local volunteers were waiting for the tardy return of around 150 pieces of equipment, including 23 wheelchairs, 32 walkers, 12 pairs of crutches, 19 commodes and 11 transfer benches to help people get in and out of the bath.
Some of the equipment has been overdue for two to three years.
"If people don't return it, we don't have it to lend," depot co-ordinator Charlie Lenz told the Times.
It's not that he's unsympathetic to people who turn in their equipment late.
Most of them are borrowing from the service during a crisis situation, he said.
"Some of their normal thought processes kind of get scrambled a bit, and things tend to get forgotten."
The local service has a total inventory of about 3,000 items, including everything from wheelchairs to long-handled reachers for grabbing things just out of range.
Customers might come in to borrow one item or as many as 10, Lenz said. As an example, he used someone recovering from hip or knee surgery.
"They're going to start off in a wheelchair," he said. "They're going to graduate to a walker. Then they'd graduate to a set of crutches, then to canes. But that's just the mobility side of it. Then they've got to use a bathroom, so that means toilet seats and safety frames and grab bars for the tubs."
That's a lot of equipment, and volunteers spend a lot of time calling people to get it returned, he said.
Lenz doesn't blame people for forgetting; he's just happy when they bring the items back.
"The bottom line is it's a loan service, he said, and there's only going to be as much to loan as we have inventory on the shelves."
? The Red Cross Medical Equipment Loan Service on 9290 Mary St. is open Monday to Friday, from 9 a.m. to noon. Call 604-792-2343 for more information.
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