(Published on August 5, 2021)
Christy Zurbrick, Madison editor
A few weeks ago, a resident of London Ruthanna Johnson underwent surgery. To recover at home, she needed a walker, cane and other medical equipment. She didn’t have to travel far or spend money to get this equipment.
She simply reached out to Caroline Garver, a member of London’s First Presbyterian Church, who runs a medical equipment loan (HELM) ministry in the church.
“It was really nice to know that the equipment is available – and free of charge. It really came in handy for my needs, ”said Johnson, who has since returned the equipment.
Garver collects and lends out a wide range of medical equipment not only to church members, but to anyone in need. Hospital beds, wheelchairs, walkers, bedside dressers, raised toilet seats, shower chairs, orthopedic equipment, wound care equipment, walking sticks, crutches – you name it, and she probably has it.
“I do not rent or lease. I just borrowed it, ”said Garver. “There are no costs for a person. They can store it for as long as they need. I just ask them to return it when they finish it. It can be from a week to a year or more. “
Garver began ministry in 2018, a couple of years after moving to London from Greenville, Ohio. Before moving, she volunteered and later worked as an Assistant Manager at the Medical Equipment Loan Department in Covington.
“People came from Dayton, Columbus, Springfield, Lima – from everywhere – for equipment,” she said.
The man in charge of the Covington ministry suggested that Garver start her own ministry after she settled in London to facilitate access to free medical equipment for more people in the region.
“I started by placing an ad on the church bulletin asking for unnecessary equipment,” Garver said.
Her adherents came up.
“I have a bunch now,” she said.
The church and donors have also kindly provided storage space for ministers, according to Garver, who cleans, disinfects and tests equipment before lending it. In addition to equipment, it also offers accessories such as adult diapers.
She noted that for larger items, including hospital beds, wheelchairs and some walkers, a doctor’s or therapist’s certificate is required. The rest of the items are not.
“My friend’s brother-in-law could hardly go to bed and get out of bed. He slept on an air mattress on the floor. She came to me and asked me to borrow a hospital bed. He received a certificate from a doctor. She said it was a lifesaver, ”said Garver.
To learn more about HELM, or to borrow or donate equipment, call the First Presbyterian Church of London, (740) 852-1215, or email Garver at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Garver also welcomes monetary donations to help cover the cost of cleaning products and meet requests for equipment she does not have. Donations made by HELM can be mailed to the church, 211 Garfield Ave., London OH 43140.