November and December mark the busiest time of year for orthopedic surgeries.
Health officials at a press conference on Monday urged the Utahns to donate metal crutches and other mobility aids as medical centers in the region face a supply shortage .
Intermountain Healthcare, University of Utah Health, Steward Health and the Utah Hospital Association are leading the donation campaign called “LeanOnUtah” to collect metal crutches, walkers, canes and non-motorized wheelchairs from the community.
The equipment shortage is due to disruptions to the global supply chain linked to the pandemic and an aluminum shortage, officials said.
Glen Beeby, spokesperson for Intermountain Healthcare, has called on Utah residents to search their closets, attics and garages for such unused equipment before November and December, the busiest time of year for orthopedic surgeries. .
Donation drives will take place at nine medical centers across the state this Saturday as well as Saturday, November 6 and Saturday, November 13, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily. A complete list of centers receiving donations is available at leanonutah.com.
All donated equipment will be inspected for safety and disinfected before being distributed to the hospital, officials said.
Dr Joey Kamerath, senior medical director of rehabilitation services at Intermountain Healthcare, said he has never seen such a shortage of supplies. Each month, his department uses an average of about 1,800 pairs of crutches, he said, but the department’s supply chain is “completely dry.”
Kamerath added that the vendors have informed medical centers that they don’t know when they will have more mobility aids for sale.
“There is a lot of equipment available out there, we just need help getting it from your closets to our patients,” Kamerath said.
Dr Darrel Brodke, Chairman of the Department of Orthopedics at U. of U. Health, said these devices are not only important for a patient’s mobility, they also allow patients to rest and fully heal their injuries – an essential step in the recovery process.
Kamerath noted that the ski season is also bringing travelers to northern Utah from across the country, and with them, an increase in injuries.
“Let’s be proactive before this becomes a huge crisis,” said Martha Gamble, head nurse for Steward Health Care Jordan Valley West.
Health officials are also looking for volunteers to help inspect and disinfect donations before the equipment is sent to hospitals in the area. To register, visit justserve.org.