BRANDON Odds are that most of the breathing machines purchased for people with sleep apnea aren’t being used. They’re being stored in bedroom closets throughout the area.
Suzie Watts, medical coordinator for the Brandon Outreach Clinic, a non-profit that serves those with no health insurance, has a waiting list of 20 patients who need them.
“Our specific need right now is for CPAP – continuous positive airway pressure – machines for people with sleep apnea,” Watts said. “From what I understand, seven out of 10 who get one, don’t use them,” because they can be uncomfortable covering the face. “I know they’re in a bunch of closets and we have 20 patients right now that need one. And two patients that need oxygen concentrators.” They can’t afford the $200 a month it would cost to rent them.
The clinic started what it calls its lending closet years ago, taking in everything from crutches to boots for broken legs, hospital beds and transition boards to help people get from bed to a wheelchair. In exchange for the community donations, each donor receives a receipt that can be used as a tax write-off, since the clinic is a non-profit agency.
“We give them a tax donation letter, but most aren’t even interested in that,” Watts said. “They are just glad everyone can use it.
“The one thing we can’t use is medications, due to state pharmacy laws.”
The lending closet has been a huge help to Mohamed Haroun, of Valrico, whose wife, Akela, suffered a stroke.
“They were very helpful at the clinic,” Haroun said. “I’ve gotten many things from them, like pots and pans, a transfer board to get from wheelchair to bed and wheelchair to bath. My wife had a stroke on her left side and these things make it a bit easier for me to care for her. It can get so expensive when there is a handicap.”
The lending closet has also been of great service to Lloyd Pritt Jr., of Valrico, who has diabetes and suffers from neuropathy, which is nerve damage to the feet caused by the disease. He got special shoes at the lending closet that deter ulcers, which can be painful and expensive to treat, his wife, Maria Pritt said.
“We’ve gotten numerous first aide supplies, my husband got the pair of diabetic shoes and it’s been very, very helpful,” she said. “The supplies are expensive, including all the wraps and gauze.
“It’s a great place. I don’t know what we would do without the clinic.”
To donate medical equipment to the outreach clinic, simply head over to 517 N. Parsons Ave., next to the Emergency Care Help Organization, drop off the donation and collect a tax receipt. Or, call (813) 654-1388.