Intermountain Healthcare announces community drive to stem shortage of aluminum crutches, walkers, canes

Photo: Intermountain Healthcare

UTAH, Oct. 25, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — Intermountain Healthcare has announced a community drive to collect aluminum crutches, walkers and other gently used medical supplies.

“The COVID-19 pandemic disruptions to the global supply chain is impacting the ability of hospitals to receive crutches and walkers due to an international shortage of aluminum,” IHC said in a Monday news release. “Intermountain Healthcare, University of Utah Health, Steward Health Care, and the Utah Hospital Association are organizing a community drive to collect gently used medical supplies.”

The donation drive, LeanOnUtah, will take place Saturday, Oct. 30, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at several locations around the state. Collections will also occur on Nov. 6 and 13 at the same locations and times, according to the press release.

“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.

LeanOnUtah organizers will accept metal crutches, walkers, canes, and non-motorized wheelchairs.

Once collected, caregivers will sanitize and inspect the devices 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 Orthopedics 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, the news release said.

Wooden crutches and canes cannot be used by the hospitals, since they are unable to be properly sanitized.

For more information on the community drive, click here.


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