State program gives all Maryland residents medical equipment — and it's completely free

"I can only imagine that I would have been in the hospital for months longer, had this program not been available," said one patient.

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The loss of mobility due to health problems or an accident can be devastating. Specialized equipment can help patients feel more comfortable and gain some of their independence back, but it can be very expensive.

But for patients in Maryland, there's a program that can help, providing free medical equipment to those who need it.

In Brandywine, there's a huge warehouse filled with refurbished wheelchairs, motorized beds and other items. It looks a little like a medical equipment superstore -- and everything in the inventory is free to Maryland residents, through the state's Durable Medical Equipment Reuse program.

"You can be insured or uninsured," said Cherrell Keys, the program services coordinator. "The only real requirement is that you would have to be a Maryland resident."

The equipment is collected through donations from people who no longer need it.

Rob Brilliante, for example, donated some crutches, saying "I hate to just throw them in the trash. It's really great that we have a place like this."

The equipment is then inspected and repaired. And the warehouse has pretty much everything.

All of the equipment is also cleaned and sterilized. News4 watched a wheelchair going through what the program calls the "hub scrub" machine. The chair was sprayed with disinfectant and rinsed, and then passed through a germ-killing UV light cycle.

"The basic equipment is what you'd see if you walked into a CVS or a Walgreens," said Ian Edwards, the director of the program. "Like canes, crutches and walkers, and bathroom equipment like shower chairs. And transfer equipment and bedside commodes."

"Then we have more advanced equipment like manual wheelchairs, power wheelchairs, scooters and home hospital beds and Hoyer lifts," Edwards continued.

To get the equipment, all a Maryland resident needs to do is fill out the online form, or call -- though some of the more complex equipment will also need a sign-off from a healthcare provider.

The program is life-changing for some patients.

"I was essentially a quadriplegic at that time," said Patrick O'Malley of his 105 days in the hospital and rehab, after a paralyzing accident in 2023.

O'Malley wasn't allowed home until he had the necessary medical equipment.

"I didn't have the money to buy the equipment, and insurance was not able to provide it," O'Malley said. "I can only imagine that I would have been in the hospital for months longer, had this program not been available.

There's equipment for all ages, including children, and the program is always looking for more donations.

If you want to contribute to the Maryland Durable Medical Equipment Reuse program, you can drop off medical equipment at donation centers around the state, including in Montgomery and Prince George's counties.

Learn more about the program here.

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