Equipment is priced to move

A new Brooksville shop sells secondhand medical goods.

Published May 8, 2007

BROOKSVILLE - Grandma has passed on. What to do with her walker, her power chair, her hospital bed?

Buddy's broken foot mended quickly. What to do with his barely used crutches?

The answers are at Medical Thrift & Consignment, 689 S Broad St., opened recently by Vanessa Guy. The 39-year-old is a former medical assistant in a physician's office and has worked in a retail store selling durable medical equipment.

"Other stores have new goods but there's still a need, because not everybody could afford it, " she said. Thus, she sought to provide an outlet for no-longer-needed equipment to benefit both consigners and those in need.

"I'm not here to compete; I'm here to help, " Guy said.

And help she has. A man came into her shop and inquired about a power chair for his 48-year-old wife who had lost mobility after a stroke. She had been trying for four months to obtain a mobile vehicle through her doctor's office. Her HMO insisted she forward the copayment of 20 percent before it would approve the claim.

Guy filled out paperwork for Medicare, and in the meantime, offered the woman a power chair on loan.

"The woman cried" as she wheeled out the door, Guy said. She had a new power chair in four days, thanks to Guy's knowledge of the system and perseverance.

The "project, " as she calls it, she's now working on is getting a power chair for a widow without family, in her early 70s, who has been moving around her home for at least seven years on a wheeled desk chair.

"Her legs are all bandaged from falls, " Guy said. Living on Social Security, she cannot afford even a few dollars a week for needed mobility.

Guy is pursuing financial aid through Universal Health Care's Community Diversion Program, which works with the Florida Department of Elder Affairs in Hernando County, the Comprehensive Assessment Review and Evaluation Services.

In addition to providing information on Medicare and Medicaid, Guy helps customers file insurance claims.

Another mission is helping a brain-damaged 28-year-old woman at a local nursing home. To her, Guy is donating a specialized chair, priced new at $4, 000, with head restraint, elevated leg rest and which fully reclines. "With the use of that chair, (her mother) hopefully will be able to bring her daughter home, at least on weekends."

Of course, no store can survive by only doing good deeds. Medical Thrift & Consignment sells a mix of new and used items. "Sometimes people get it too late, " she says of never-used consigned items.

Outright donations of equipment have come from Forest Oaks Care Center, Heron Pointe and Jericho Road Ministries. "The community has really taken on to the context (of the business), " Guy said.

The shop stocks lift chairs, potty chairs, shower benches, hand rails for bathtubs and toilets and shower bars. Walkers with sit-down accommodation, at $139, are a hot item, Guy says. Models with more options range to $199.

There are hospital beds, car lifts to attach to the back of vehicles, a lightweight push chair that folds flat for $170, new and used manual wheel chairs from $50 to $250.

"Consigners price (the items) themselves, " Guy said. "I guide them to realistic figures." She prices other items according to condition, and she looks at catalogs for new equipment costs, which she says she reduces at least 50 percent.

Guy adds, "Nothing comes in the front door." It is delivered to the back door of a scrub room. "I go through a rigorous type of regimen: cleaning, sanitizing, deodorizing."

Kathy Jones, acting executive director of United Way of Hernando County, is glad to see the opening of the durable medical equipment shop.

"We get a lot of calls, " she said, "people wanting to donate equipment." Now United Way has a place to steer them and residents have an opportunity to buy on a shoestring.

Beth Gray can be contacted at graybethn@earthlink.net.

Fast Facts:


Medical Thrift & Consignment

Where: 689 S Broad St., Brooksville Phone: (352) 293-2474

Affiliated: Community Diversion Program of Hernando County Department of Elder Affairs, (352) 620-3457