By S.L. Hansen
(SNR) - After a serious illness, injury or surgery, many people
have a temporary need for durable medical equipment such as
wheelchairs, walkers, shower seats and so on.
Unfortunately, the cost
of such equipment is usually borne by the patient and their
family instead of insurance or Medicare.
Rob Voigtlander of
Saint Anthony Parish in Steinauer works as an occupational
therapist, so he sees how much of a burden this can be for some
"Medicare doesn’t cover
a lot of this equipment," he revealed. "It will only buy you one
walker in a lifetime, and it won’t buy any bath benches or
pretty much everything else."
difficult to make a sizeable investment in medical equipment
when an item is only going to be used for weeks or months.
Over time, Mr.
Voigtlander found himself collecting durable medical equipment
that patients no longer needed.
"People had given me
some equipment, and my employer had given me quite a bit of
equipment to try to get to people," he explained.
As a member of the
Knights of Columbus Council #10000 (of St. Anthony Parish in
Steinauer and Sacred Heart Parish in Burchard), Mr. Voigtlander
decided to take the project to his brother Knights.
"The service part of
the Knights’ mission is to serve the parish and the community,"
he said. "We can serve the community with a great opportunity to
get medical equipment to the people who need it."
So, he brought up the
idea at a council meeting and was met with an enthusiastic
response. The Knights began advertising the program in church
bulletins, and a local newspaper ran an article about it.
Several families have
already benefited from the opportunity to borrow free medical
"They’re all very
grateful," Mr. Voigtlander said. "It was very convenient, and
they didn’t have to spend their money. They could spend it on
other things they needed."
Currently, the Knights
are storing donated equipment in Mr. Voigtlander’s garage and
basement. They have around 75 items in stock, including walkers,
canes, shower benches, grab bars and more.
As more people hear
about the Knights’ efforts, more donations have come in. A
fellow St. Anthony parishioner who works at a doctor’s office
recently offered to bring the Knights some used wheelchairs.
Some benefactors have
donated money as well.
"The hope is that we
can buy some items if we are short on things," Mr. Voigtlander
said. "Or we can replace items as they get worn."
He’s grateful to the
people of St. Anthony and Sacred Heart parishes, and his
employer, Physical and Respiratory Therapists, for all their
contributions and ongoing support.
"I would like to see it
continue to grow," he said. "Maybe some other Knights groups can
pick it up in their communities."
Anyone in need of medical equipment in the
Steinauer or Burchard area can contact the Knights of Columbus
to see if they have the right item available. Patients and
donors can also contact Mr. Voigtlander directly at (402)