Crutches, wheelchairs, walkers on loan in Vail Valley |

Crutches, wheelchairs, walkers on loan in Vail Valley

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado ” Tucked away in a lower level of the Shaw Cancer Center sits a room filled with wheelchairs, crutches and a host of other medical equipment for Vail Valley residents to use.

It’s a collection that has helped numerous valley residents and visitors through the Vail Valley Salvation Army’s medical equipment program, which loans out medical goods to anyone in need.

The program makes the equipment, which can be quite costly to buy, available to anyone regardless of income or residency, said Tsu Wolin-Brown of the Salvation Army.

People who want the equipment include skiers in need of crutches after a ski accident, visitors in town needing a wheelchair for a few days or locals who simply can’t afford the cost of the equipment.

Gerald and Betty Ford have even borrowed equipment from the program, Wolin-Brown said.

“One woman wrote us a thank you note saying that her mom was able to enjoy her vacation here because we lent her a wheelchair,” she said.

Doctor’s offices, occupational therapists, senior centers and the hospital all use the program for patients, said Salvation Army volunteer Mary Jo Froberg.

“Hundreds of people have been helped,” said Froberg. “Individuals donate the equipment, and anybody can use it. We just ask that when people return equipment, they return in good shape and clean.”

The program is also a much-used resource for the Vail Valley Home Health program, which works with patients transitioning between a hospital stay, physical therapy and recovery, as well as patients who need care from home, Froberg said.

The hospital confirmed it used the program, but refused to comment further.

The program specializes in equipment that can be reused, so nothing disposable such as bandages are available. But if you’re looking for a walker, shower bar or toilet-seat riser, the storehouse has it, Froberg said.

The program started a few years ago with 30 pieces of equipment and has now grown to over 250 pieces, she said.

Charity Batson, owner of the Eagle Pharmacy, said she often refers people to the program.

“We have a lot of people who come in needing the equipment,” she said. “Some have family visiting, or others were injured because of an accident. Others were low-income residents who couldn’t afford it.”

The pharmacy, due to liability reasons, cannot rent out medical equipment, Batson said, so the program is a great resource.

The equipment doesn’t come cheap, and the loaner equipment can end up saving patients a significant amount, she said.

Wheelchairs can up to $300, crutches from $30 to $40, and walkers from $50 to $80.

The Vail Valley Cares Thrifty Shoppe sees similar needs from people of all situations, said general manager Phil Carter.

Many people don’t know about the program, but it’s great for people needing equipment temporarily, he said.

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or

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