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Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2023



Jay Chochran, GREEN’s coordinator, at New Horizons Independant Living Center.

Used items can help people in need

In 25 years of going into homes as an occupational therapist, Janet Dreier has seen – and continues to see – people struggle – people who need a piece of medical equipment that would let them continue living independently. There are just so many things insurance doesn’t pay for,” Dreier said. “Right now, Medicare doesn’t pay for bedside commodes. They quit paying for potty chairs. People need to take care of themselves to be independent.”

But Dreier has seen first-hand what the GREEN program does. As part of the New Horizons Independent Living Center in Shreveport, GREEN (Giving Recycled/Reusable Equipment for Everyday Needs) takes in donated medical equipment, then gives a particular piece of equipment to someone who needs it. The program services 29 North Louisiana parishes.

“You can tell when people are happy to give something away,” Dreier said. “You walk out (of New Horizons) and they will say, ‘Call us if you ever need anything. We will help you if we have the equipment’.”

Receiving a piece of equipment doesn’t cost the person in need anything. Nor does it cost the person donating the equipment.

“Somebody will donate a wheelchair or a walker,” said Jay Cochran, GREEN’s coordinator. “We take all donations of medical equipment (as well as monetary donations). If they are able to get here, they bring it to us. If they are not able to get it here, we try to find a way of getting it picked up and brought to us. We clean up (the equipment) and make sure it’s safe to use, and functional. Then, we get the equipment to the consumer who needs it.”

Often, people learn their insurance doesn’t pay for a particular piece of equipment. That’s where the GREEN program is particularly beneficial.

“Especially for people who are low-income who don’t have the money to run out and purchase a $140 shower bench or equipment like that. It can vary from $100-$300, depending on what you need.”

Cochran says New Horizons, founded in 1984, is state and federally funded. He says each state must have at least one independent living center and that New Horizons is one of three centers in Louisiana.

“That’s what OT is about – training (people) how to use the equipment,” Dreier said. “But if they don’t have the equipment, they’re stuck taking a sponge bath. Or they don’t have the right walker to walk into the narrow doorway. Maybe they need a rollator with a seat on it because they need to carry their food from the kitchen to the living room or the dining room table, but they can’t carry it without putting it on something to push it.”

For Cochran, helping people with disabilities is more than a job. Born with arthrogryposis – described by John Hopkins Medical Center as “a number of conditions which affect the joints” – Cochran is disabled.

“Because of Shriners Hospital, I’ve gone through many surgeries, and I am able to walk a little bit. I use a cane, and I also use a wheelchair.”

And Cochran’s disability makes what he does incredibly gratifying.

“It’s very rewarding, not only for me to be able to give (equipment) out, but for the person who donates it. All they want is for it to go to good use. They don’t sell it. They don’t want to profit off it, and they don’t want anybody else to profit off it. They just want to genuinely help somebody.”

If you would like to learn more about the GREEN program – and how you can donate or request a piece of medical equipment – you may visit www.nhilc.org.


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