Hendersonville nonprofit loans medical equipment to those who need it

Person of the Week: Maureen Graham
The Medical Loan Closet of Henderson County loans medical equipment to those who need it but may not be able to purchase what's needed. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

For people in the midst of a personal health crisis, a Seventh Avenue location can be just what the doctor ordered.

That's where Maureen Graham lends a sympathetic ear and much more at The Medical Loan Closet of Henderson County.

"And they're frustrated, and they're upset, and they're not in a good place. We want to help them," Graham, the nonprofit's executive director and News 13 Person of the Week, said.

The nonprofit's inventory can be a real lifesaver.

"Anything you need for a surgery. We have crutches, we have commodes," Graham said during a walk around the building at 1227 Seventh Ave.

The Medical Loan Closet, which is open from 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays, provides people with an alternative to buying expensive medical equipment. The agency loans equipment to community members for a fraction of the cost of buying the devices.

"It's $20 for as many pieces as you need for two months, except our beds are a little more expensive and our knee scooters," she explained.

That fee is for Henderson County residents. It's $30 for residents from outside Henderson County.

Graham and her team of 20 volunteers embrace the chance to help people.

"You'll be good to go. This is rated for 700 pounds," a volunteer said, showing a woman a wheelchair.

"What a godsend," she replied.

"Ninety percent of all these items are donated, but you haven't seen the half of it. You've got to come back here," Graham said, pointing out even more equipment. "As you can see, we have beds and a total array of more walkers, parts for fixing things."

The project began 50 years ago in a room at St. James Church. These days, Graham leads the group with a passion for helping people.

The group needs volunteers to help customers and maintain the equipment.

The Medical Loan Closet receives funding from Henderson County, the city of Hendersonville and the United Way.

"As we all know, medical equipment is very expensive. So, this reduces the cost considerably," Graham said.

Tuesday, clients discussed how vital the nonprofit is.

Laneal Vaughn rented a recumbent bike for his mother, recovering from back surgery.

"They have lots of pieces of equipment, and they're able to meet the need at the time you have the need," Vaughn said.

Meanwhile, Sally Butcher came to find a companion chair for her mother.

"We weren't sure what to do, and we heard about this place and called. And they've been so helpful," Butcher said.

"Over 3,000 loans a year," Graham said of the closet's impact. "And that's over 6,000 pieces of equipment."

The agency and volunteers have helped many of people over the years and hope to reach even more in 2020, filling a big need in the community.

"We are saving the people and the county thousands of dollars," Graham said.