Charlie’s Closet a lifeline for those who need medical equipment

Charlie’s Closet a lifeline for those who need medical equipment

Which is Charlie’s Closet, the nonprofit healthcare equipment clearinghouse less than the umbrella of Guilford Interfaith Volunteers (GIV) which is been having donations of clean up, carefully used health care tools and creating it offered on financial loan to whoever needs it, for just one greenback, for the final 25 a long time.

There has yet to be a silver anniversary celebration. They are way too fast paced, it looks.

Previous 7 days, director Tony Sicignano and his crew completed delivery their fifth truckload of crutches, canes, walkers, and bandages to St. Michael’s Ukrainian Church in New Haven for the war energy. They did the same for earthquake-ravaged Haiti in 2010, as well as for Tibet and Jamaica. Sicignano explained he expects that Turkey and Syria will shortly be included to the record.

They’ve come via closer to home as properly.
Throughout the pandemic, they presented clinic beds and wheelchairs for people wanting to pull their family out of nursing properties, in accordance to Sicignano. 

With an normal of 20 to 40 requests a day for devices, “we’re extra well-known than at any time,” Sicignano reported.

That is backed up by Christi Burton, director of GIV, which Meals on Wheels, Helpful Visiting, and Guilford Food stuff Lender. 

“It’s possibly the busiest of all our providers mainly because not lots of other organizations can do what they do,” she mentioned. 

It all begun in 1998 when Guilford’s Charlie McGowan came by the office environment of the Guilford Interfaith Ministries in research of an electrical stair raise for a neighbor diagnosed with ALS.

When the staff identified a stair carry at an auction residence, it strike them, volunteer Gwen Fletcher explained to the New Haven Sign up in 2018.

“If one particular person desperately necessary gear and did not know the place to go, how a lot of much more were being there?”

From then on, “people have been coming in,” claimed Sicignano, seated on a shower chair amid stacks of mattresses, collections of canes, and teams of walkers in the comfortable light of the sawdust-smelling barn.

“These are folks who come across by themselves at a specially hard time in their lives, simply because their insurance policies enterprise won’t address the price for equipment, Medicare will refuse to shell out, or they just do not have insurance plan or the wherewithal to purchase it,” he mentioned. 

There are specified procedures governing Charlie’s Closet. Most of them incorporate the phrase “no.”

There are no money requirements. No geographic constraints. No crimson tape. No concerns asked. 

Then there is the value of the health-related tools. It has not budged from 1998. From a hospital bed to a wheelchair to a cane, the cost is one dollar.

A couple factors have transformed above the several years. 

There are the pieces of products that Charlie’s Closet lends out every single yr. It’s risen from 2,100 in 2009 to 5,800 in 2017. More than the earlier few a long time, it is stayed continual, with figures ranging from 6,000 to 7,000 items, in accordance to Sicignano. 

That’s arguably no ponder, with older People in america 1 of the fastest escalating demographics, according to the Administration for Neighborhood Residing and, as the claimed in November 2022, “77 per cent of grown ups 50 and more mature want[ing] to remain in their properties for the extended term.” 

That implies, Sicignano explained, “more hip surgeries, knee surgeries, and other surgical procedures. That means additional persons will need more gear.”

A further alter is the protocols for cleaning gear instituted all through the pandemic. “It adjusted dramatically,” mentioned Sicignano, incorporating that they proceed to use a a few-section alternative that they spray on every little thing. 

Maybe a lot more significant is the need of generating appointments. 

“That was out of requirement,” he claimed. “We experienced to preserve men and women staggered likely in. Prior to that, you arrived in whenever you required to.” 

That has led to an unforeseen reward. 

“Now we have a couple minutes the place people could come in and we could speak to them about their demands,” he explained. 

That indicates volunteers like Pam Rowling, a retired occupational therapist, and physical therapist Ellyn Higgins can advise individuals on the suitable kind of devices. 

“We also have a social worker, a nurse, a radiation therapist,” Sicignano explained. “I’m blessed with these volunteers with previous expertise who can sit and converse to the individual, even if it is just for two minutes, telling them ‘I realize what you’re looking for, allow me suggest this.’”

There are two ladies who are retired lawyers. “One of them just cleans and the other responses telephones,” she explained. 

Then there is Joe Secki of Killingworth. “He came in one particular day and claimed ‘I’m retired’ and I stated how handy are you and he advised me he was very qualified,” Sicignano recalled. “He has a wonderful personality, nothing at all frustrates him, he just arrives in and says ‘what do you will need set.’”

The biggest problem “is when someone comes in and I really do not have that gear,” he stated, incorporating that the most requested things are wheelchairs, transportation chairs, commodes, and shower chairs. 

“That’s the toughest portion, and it is also tough when a person will come in and they’re acquiring to assist a child for the reason that we really do not normally get pediatric things.”

That claimed, “I’ve had people today call me and say ‘I want this’ and I tell them I really don’t have it, and five minutes afterwards, anyone phone calls up and suggests ‘hey, I bought this merchandise I don’t have to have anymore,’ and it is what the preceding individual was seeking for,” he claimed.

“And it constantly often astounds me when that happens and it occurs much more than you think it would,” he stated. 

“You could say this was the do the job of God, or kismet. I cannot reveal it. All I know is I’m so satisfied when it occurs.”  

Charlie’s Closet is found on 310 State Avenue, Unit 200, Guilford and is open from 9:00 am to 12 noon Monday by means of Friday. To make appointment for gear donations and decide on-ups (appointments only), call 203-453-8359. 

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Lisa Reisman might be achieved at [email protected].