Loan closet

Various items of medical equipment can be found at Tomah's Kupper Ratsch Senior Center.

Tomah’s Kupper-Ratsch Senior Center’s loan closet is an asset to the area, but those who maintain it want the resource to be better known.

Pam Buchda, director of the Senior Center, said ever since she took the job in July, she has been trying to get the word out about the loan closet, which has been around as long as there has been a Senior Center.

“It’s a wonderful asset;, I’m very happy that we have this,” she said. “People come in here, and they are so thankful to be able to use this equipment without having to go out and spend a fortune on it. ... It’s like a hidden gem, but people don’t know about it, so I’ve been trying to get the word out that we have this service and that we do take donations as well as loan them out free.”

The loan closet is a free service that allows people of any age to borrow medical equipment such as wheelchairs, walkers, canes, commodes, shower chairs, etc., for as long as they need them for free.

To borrow and check out items clients will be asked to do three things, Buchda said.

“We ask that they take care of the items while they have them, when they no longer need it to return it so other people can use it and that we have no liability if something would happen,” she said. “Otherwise they get it free.”

All loan closet items are donations, Buchda said. None of the items are purchased by the Senior Center.

“We take donations as people have stuff, whether they’ve rehabbed and no longer need it or whether mom or dad or grandma or grandpa have passed and no longer need it; we take all of that,” she said. “That’s how we stock it. We don’t go out and buy the equipment and then loan it out free. We get the equipment donated to us free, and then we loan it out free. It’s just a revolving door.”

There is a form to fill out listing the borrower’s name, address, phone number, email address and what they borrowed. Once the borrower brings the item back, the bottom portion of the form will be filled in to signify that the item was returned.

There is no time limit for how long someone can borrow items, Buchda said. She still has forms dating back to 2013.

Buchda herself is a long-term borrower. She borrowed a shower chair when she had her first hip surgery, then she had a second hip surgery and now she still uses the chair.

“We tell people to use it as long as you need it and then return it when you no longer needed it,” she said.

Seniors are not the only people who can borrow items, Buchda said; anyone of any age can utilized the loan closet.

People can also borrow more than one item at a time, Buchda said.

“They can check out what they need,” she said. “Sometimes somebody comes in − they’ve had surgery and they need a wheelchair, a walker, a cane, commode and a shower chair. Because as they rehab they go from a wheelchair to the walker to the cane and so on.”

Anyone wishing to donate medical items to the loan closet can call Buchda at the Senior Center at 608-374-7476.

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Meghan Flynn can be reached at meghan.flynn@lee.net.

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