While attending Brock’s Gap Heritage Day 2023, Delores Ritchie Reid discovered she was descended from local midwives in the area, who practiced during the late 1800s to early 1900s. It’s not surprising then, that her chosen profession was nursing!
After 40 years in nursing, 20 years of that as a home healthcare nurse, Delores retired in 2012, and has taken on a new challenge. Several years after retiring, she was approached by Mission Central’s then District Superintendent with this idea of a medical equipment loaning program.
In her later years in home care nursing, Delores saw that sometimes patients were unable to get certain items, possibly because insurance didn’t cover, or they couldn’t afford the extras.
In 2015, Equipment for Caring was born. It is a loaner “closet” filled with donated both new and gently used medical equipment and supplies.
As coordinator of Mission Central – Equipment for Caring, working with 10-12 volunteers, Delores’ lifelong career of caring for patients now extends to making sure people have access to any medical equipment and supplies.
A recent move from Smithland Road in Harrisonburg to the new location in Mt. Tabor UMC in Rockingham, has given the volunteers more rooms to expand their collection of necessary items. The Pastor, Gordon Meriwether, is happy to have the group at the church. They now have 3 large rooms, and 2 storage sheds to accommodate their growing inventory. One shed, donated by Mt. Tabor, holds hospital beds, the other stores adult diapers.
When this idea of gathering necessary medical equipment sprung to life, storage was scattered. Volunteers’ garages, storage sheds, and some of the local UMC churches housed the donations and supplies. Storing large items like hospital beds became problematic.
Four years into the program, the group found a building on Smithland Road to keep everything. Delores said they were so grateful to have this new storage. Although concentrated in one area, it was still a tight squeeze for everything the group had accumulated.
In April of this year, the group was offered the opportunity to have several rooms within the Mt. Tabor United Methodist Church on Valley Pike.
Individuals, family members of elderly, community health workers or case workers are welcome to come look for equipment that is needed.
At one point, Delores said the group had 60 donated hospital beds over the years, now they are down to 8. Any donations are greatly appreciated, since there is always a need. When they first started this mission, Delores admitted “At first, I didn’t know how to put a hospital bed together, but believe me, I learned! I wasn’t the person in nursing who had to worry about that!”
“Some of our clients were in hospice, and then were discharged from that, so were still in need of the equipment.” Hospice care does provide everything that is needed, but if the patient is no longer in need of hospice care, but still needs the equipment, it is up to the patient or their caregivers, to obtain what is needed. I couldn’t tell you the number of people we have served over the years. We see from 70-100 per month!”
Regardless of income level, insurance or no insurance, everyone in need is welcome to borrow from Equipment for Caring. Hospice, assisted living, and private individuals are among those who make use of the service that Delores and her volunteers offer.
Any equipment that a family no longer needs can be donated here, to help another. Items can be purchased and donated- like the beds, walkers, toilet seat risers, rubber gloves, sanitizers, canes, crutches, sock assists, gowns, bandages, catheter bags, etc. Seated walkers/ Rollators are always needed. “We can’t keep up with the demand for those.” Delores admitted. The only items they cannot accept are medications, walking boots/shoes, CPAP/BiPAP machines, or oxygen equipment. There are no restrictions on who can borrow from their supplies.
The group only asks that they be returned when no longer needed, so the item can be passed on to another. All returned and donated items are properly sanitized and are in good working order, ready for the next borrower.
All this work is done by volunteers, a mission of the heart, items and cash donations are gratefully accepted to keep the loaner closet ongoing. The need is out there, and Delores Reid and her volunteers are fulfilling that need!
They are always looking for volunteers, and you don’t have to be a member of UMC to volunteer.
Mission Central – Equipment for Caring is open 2 days a week – Monday, 5-7pm, and Thursday, 9-11am.
Mt. Tabor UMC 8335 North Valley Pike, Rockingham, VA 22802
Mailing address for monetary donations/correspondence:
Equipment for Caring
PO Box 2026
Harrisonburg, VA 22801