Thursday, June 25, 2015

Wheelchairs on the fly

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Thursday I delivered a truckload of wheelchairs for charitable purpose (and all it cost me was time).
Last year, when VA Healthcare System up on Columbian was building a parking garage, there was concern that they didn't have enough wheelchairs. Since people would have to go farther to get inside during construction, they needed more chairs. Also we had been getting lots of complaints about the difficulty clinics had getting chairs - complaints that should have been resolved through the chain-of-command, but weren't, for reasons that we need not go into here.
I believe it was at one of our Veterans Roundtables that we brought the issue up and Heidi Audette of WDVA said they had a surplus of chairs at the Old Soldiers' Home in Orting. After a bit of talk-talk, we had DAV Chapter 23 (West Seattle) rent us truck, a bunch of the guys went and loaded a lot of chairs, and left them at the hospital where they were presumably put to use. It was simple, efficient, and great public/private and intra-governmental cooperation.
A few weeks ago, Orting called again and said they had a bunch more chairs. As patients move out of the facility - perhaps to live with family, perhaps to be buried - they leave behind gear often enough that it builds up. I said, sure, we'll find something to do with them.
However, the VA Hospital didn't want them. They have a wheelchair budget and are stocked up. I check with the people at the bottom and it did seem there were enough; I often see them parked appropriately waiting for use, so it didn't seem I was missing something there.
I brought this up at the King County Veterans' Programs meeting. Several people expressed interest in taking some chairs, although they could not commit on short notice. The VFW (West Seattle) Commander said they could do temporary storage.
My brother Dan offered to drive his pickup and trailer if we covered gas, so off we went earlier this week. There was quite a lot of stuff, so we picked only the best. It took up rather more room at VFW than we had planned.
Several threads of inquiry lead to Bridge Ministry as the go-to place for moving excess healthcare equipment. DAV 23 agreed to pay the truck rental (and we had to clear the VFW hall because it was rented for a wedding!) so Thursday morning I met with Jerry and Robin and Ron, and we started loading.
It turned out that loading a truck that was a little larger than we needed, with four people and the gear already selected goes a *lot* fast than loading a small truck with two people picking through the choices. We were done before Marvin arrived (lol) but that's o.k. - everyone else went off to other engagements, and he and I went over to Bridge. Unloading didn't take that long and we were done in time for a little lunch at a fish place on Alki were I met a beautiful poodle mix with a beautiful owner and, too soon, her beautiful boyfriend.
All in all, a good start to the day!

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