Medical loan closet moves around, but is always there

A medical equipment loan closet in Wrangell offers items free of charge for anyone who needs assistance on a short-term basis.

Alice Rooney, a retired social worker, volunteers with Hospice of Wrangell, also known as Harriet's Helpers. She has been helping run the closet which stocks wheelchairs, walkers, braces, bedpans, hospital beds, grabbers, commodes and other items.

The loan closet is located in a corner of the former Wrangell Medical Center next to Evergreen Elementary School on Bennett Street.

It's moved a few times in the 45 years she's been involved with the service, Rooney said.

Someone recently went to one of the former sites - now Bishop Rowe Apartments - thinking it was still there. Bishop Rowe was the hospital before the one next to the school opened more than 50 years ago.

The loan closet has been at the airport. It's been at a former Presbyterian church.

The important thing is, it's still around.

"It's been a long-term community project," Rooney said. "When I started 45 years ago, the health nurse started keeping a few things in her closet. The hospice took it over a few years ago."

Rooney said the medical equipment loan closet gets quite a lot of use. She'd been covering a couple of days for Don McConachie Sr., who runs the service, and said she got four calls in that time. They receive an average of 12 calls a month.

And McConachie said, it's quite nice that Wrangell can offer the service.

"A lot of these things that we have in that closet have been donated by people in the community who have bought them in the past, or after a family member passes on," he said.

McConachie said he's been on the hospice board, but recently took over the facility from his predecessor who stepped down. "We all take our turn to do what we can for the community. It's a very satisfying thing to do," he said.

Anyone who needs to borrow equipment can call McConachie at 907-305-0063 or Rooney at 907-305-0007.


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