Check your closets and garage - Utah hospitals need your gently used aluminum crutches and other medical equipment.
The COVID-19 pandemic disruptions to the global supply chain is impacting the ability of hospitals to receive crutches due to an international shortage of aluminum.
Intermountain Healthcare, University of Utah Health, Steward Health, and the Utah Hospital Association are organizing a community drive to collect gently used medical supplies.
The donation drive, LeanOnUtah, saw a big influx in donations the last two Saturdays and organizers are hoping to receive more during the final day of the drive which is this Saturday, November 13th at locations around the state.
“I’ve never seen a shortage of crutches this significant, and normally it’s an afterthought because they’re always so readily available,” said Joey Kamerath, MD, senior medical director of rehabilitation services at Intermountain Healthcare . “My biggest worry now is someone will have a broken leg or stroke and we won’t be able to send them home with the walking assist devise they need.”
LeanOnUtah organizers will accept metal crutches, walkers, canes, and non-motorized wheelchairs. People often hold on to these devises after surgeries or accidents and volunteers are hopeful people will have enough crutches stored in closets and garages to meet the current need.
Organizers say they’ve also realized there is a growing need for smaller crutches meant for pediatric patients.
“Moving after a surgery or injury is a vital part of the healing process because it begins to strengthen the body and helps avoid blood clots,” said Dr. Kamerath. ”That’s why walk assist devices are so important for patients.”
Once collected, caregivers will sanitize and inspect the devises for safety before being sent to hospitals for use. They will then be given to patients with a note letting them know it was generously donated by someone in the community. All devices that can’t be repaired will be properly recycled.
"I have been so impressed by the spirit of community in this state and hopeful that our friends and neighbors can rally to solve this unique healthcare need,” said Darrel Brodke, MD, chair of the Department of Orthopaedics at University of Utah Health. “In coming days, we will have surgical patients or emergency department patients with a broken leg, who may be discharged without crutches, unless we can find creative solutions like this community drive.”
This shortage is happening at a difficult time for hospitals because November and December are the busiest time of year for elective surgeries, especially in orthopedics, which often require walk assist devices for recovery.
“We want to thank our friends and neighbors in advance for their donations. Utahans are known for their giving spirits,” said Brian Dunn, president of Steward Health Care’s Western Region. “We are hopeful that the giving spirit will continue as we ask for your help in donating these important supplies.”
Wooden crutches and canes cannot be used by the hospitals, since they are unable to be properly sanitized.