Medical Loan Closet helps people in need of equipment

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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Sometimes the biggest medical expense a family faces has little to do with a visit to the doctor or hospital and a lot to do with just getting around.

It turns out finding and affording things like walkers, wheelchairs and other medical equipment can be a challenge.

The first thing you will notice when you visit the Beck home in north Phoenix is that mom Eleanor has lots of support from her family, but you can also see she needs some other support, as well.

After slipping on the stairs at her home, Beck found getting support to get around was not easy.

"We had a real problem because I'm uninsured," she said.

The Becks are self-employed jewelers and found the monthly cost of insurance was out of reach.

"With me and my son it was like $700," Beck said.

So, on their own, they began shopping for a wheelchair, cane and walker, and Beck remembers it was not easy.

"It makes you realize how much things cost," she said.

A check of supplies in Phoenix found wheelchairs and walkers can easily cost a minimum of nearly $150, even shower chairs can be $75 or more.

"So we went to many different Goodwill [stores] and thrift stores and we found one, actually, but it took a long time," said Beck's son, Victor. 

And that got him thinking and when it came time to choose a charity for a school project at St. Francis Xavier, he chose the Catholic Charities Medical Loan Closet.

"The Medical Loan Closet at Catholic Charities fills the need for people who are vulnerable due to their lack of access to medical equipment," said Debbie DiCarlo with Catholic Charities.

DiCarlo said there are a variety of reasons people may not be able to get needed equipment.

"Some don't have insurance and some are underinsured and, frankly, some just don't have the wherewithal to navigate the system," she said.

Stocked with all kinds of donated supplies, the closet is open to anyone in need in Yavapai County and to refugees served by Catholic Charities in Maricopa County.

"We have walkers, we have wheelchairs, we have apparatus to raise a toilet seat up so that it makes it easier for those who have difficulty," DiCarlo said.

Victor is now raising funds to buy more supplies to donate because he says everyone could use a little support now and again.

"I thought it would be just amazing to help people like my mom do the stuff they do and get around so much easier," he said.

Those who get supplies can re-donate them when they are through or keep them if they need to.

The closet in Maricopa County is mostly for refugees, but if they have extra donations they can open up the service to others, as well.

For more information visit CatholicCharitiesAZ.org or call 1-855-316-2229.

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