Local church mission includes providing needed medical equipment for residents

The Chatfield United Methodist Church medical equipment loan closet is full to the corners with items that the community may borrow when in need of a walker, wheelchair or toilet booster. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS
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“Break a leg, man.”

And then, after the landing, the next stage is needing crutches and a booster seat.

“Beverly Simpson, our parish nurse, manages the medical closet, and there’s lots of medical equipment in there for people in the community to borrow,” said Rev. Debra Collum, of Chatfield United Methodist Church (CUMC).

The church is home of two of Simpson’s mission projects, a senior citizens’ health discussion group that meets at CUMC’s Gathering Place for Seniors, and the medical equipment closet housed in a spare church room just off the sanctuary.

Several years ago, upon starting the Gathering Place ministry, Simpson saw a need for medical equipment for individuals she worked with and also realized that others had a surplus of used equipment lurking in the corners of garages and apartments. That’s when she determined the two should come together at her church.

Collum feels that every now and then, the community’s residents need a reminder that they don’t have to drive all the way to Rochester to buy crutches if they sprain an ankle or get out of the hospital and need a wheelchair or walker.

“We’ve had this for about six years, but we don’t think people should have to buy equipment if they can borrow it,” she said. “We have toilet risers, wheelchairs, walkers, canes, things that people will need for either short-term or long-term medical issues. We don’t think people should need to buy these things – no running to Rochester if they can get it here.”

Collum opened the actual closet inside the medical equipment closet — a room jammed full of wheelchairs, walkers, commodes, shower benches, a lift recliner and even a black left-foot brace boot standing atop a piece of equipment — to show that the inventory goes on and on.

She cited that nobody needs to worry about when to return an item. “There’s not a checkout system, so if somebody needs something, they can come and get it. It’s upstairs here at the church — people can come in the doors on Winona Street, take the stairs or the lift up, choose what they need and take it home, and they can just bring it back when they’re done with it,” Collum said. “People should feel free to use it.”

The medical equipment closet is among CUMC’s numerous ministries. Donations of durable medical equipment are always welcome, and the pastor observed that Simpson takes care of anything that is dropped off at CUMC to ready it for the next user.

“We’re always looking for good medical equipment that’s in usable order. Bev does sanitize things that come to us, so it’s cleaned and ready for people to use. If someone has something to drop off, they can call the church or Bev Simpson,” Collum concluded.

For more information on CUMC’s medical closet — how to donate or obtain equipment — call the church at 507-867-3529 or Simpson at 507-867-0064.