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Lending a Hand

By Diane Oltorik

After approval by PSC in November of 2011, I waited until after the holidays to begin my effort to stock the Loan Closet with the 12 devices discussed: three sets of crutches, three walkers of various designs, three stand alone potty-chairs, and three wheelchairs. In January 2012, I began the publicity to seek donations of the items needed. Throughout January, February, and March, this was my primary effort. By April 1, I had about 90 percent of the items and announced in the press that the closet was open!

In early May 2012, I prepared a memo to all the rental managers at all the real estate companies on the Isle of Palms. I hand delivered the memo with the idea that our visitors would benefit from having these items available to them in an emergency during a stay. The only one I did not deliver was to Donna, the secretary of the Wild Dunes Community Association, though I communicated with her several times through email. I wanted to ensure that residents and visitors to our city were aware of this service. I also had several conversations with Chief Graham to ensure that a process for access to the Supply Room did not interfere with her officers’ duties. She gave me a special number to call for the Captain on Duty when I needed access.

Therefore, this report is effectively a six-month report covering the period from April 1 through September 30, 2012. During this period, I had seven requests for items; I fulfilled all but two requests. The first one I could not supply was a walker with a seat; I did not get one donated until very late in the summer. The second I could not fulfill was for a child’s crutches, and, of course, I did not have any children’s crutches.

As of this writing, there is one wheelchair on loan to a resident for a longer period of time, possibly through November. I am anticipating that there will be a request for one or two items from a resident in the next few days. I now have the last item needed – a walker with a seat that was donated last month.

The process for borrowing an item begins with a phone call to my phone at 324-1401 from the person with the need. Arrangements will then be made for me to deliver the item, meet them at Fire Station 1, or bring it to my home to be picked up. I try to make this most convenient for all involved, including the Fire Department, the person in need, and even myself. I then contact the Captain on Duty to make arrangements to gain access to the Medical Supply Room. Sometimes it is to put an item back in the closest and sometimes it is to take one out. Before handing the item over to the person in need, I sanitize the item with alcohol wipes on the areas that would come into contact with the user’s skin. The borrower then signs the city’s waiver form and a small lending sheet of my design; I use carbon paper so that the borrower can have copies at the point of borrowing.

I have also had an offer from someone to make a balloon wheelchair that is appropriate for beach and water use, but he would need somewhere to store it because he is not a permanent resident. Also, the County Park has one balloon wheelchair, so I am not sure if this is something the city or I should pursue.

To my surprise, there have been no requests from realtors for any of their renters. I guess everyone coming to visit has not had any mishaps requiring a need for one of our devices. I continue to have offers of donations, but, of course, the closet is full.

To sum up, we have developed a systematic process to make this service work efficiently, and it is my belief and the belief of those who have benefited thus far from having the closet items available to them that, as they have told me, this is a viable and continuing service that our city should be proud to be able to offer, and that I am proud to coordinate.

In closing, I would like to publicly thank Chief Graham and her staff for their support of this service. 

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