A LONG HISTORY OF HELPING OTHERS
At its inception in 1961, there was only Luther’s Pharmacy in Beaufort County that provided access to medical equipment. But a delay of weeks in ordering and receiving the needed equipment was a significant problem.
It was then that Natalie Haskell, a member of the Beaufort Memorial Hospital Women’s Auxiliary, established The Lending Room to provide free medical equipment to discharged patients from a facility located on hospital grounds. Leadership by committed volunteers continued when Haskell retired.
Mrs. Sam Smith took over the project then, followed by Becky Trask, who lovingly led the effort for 40 years. Becky then asked Martha O’Regan to take the helm with colleagues Roxanne Cheney, Carolyn Roos, and Lori Wells.
Expanding hospital space needs grew in the early years, forcing TLR to find new space. It was then the community stepped in further, underscoring the essence of Mead’s quote. At first, the equipment was stored in a relative’s basement and then moved to a city-owned house at Pigeon Point. When that was destroyed by fire, former City Councilman Dick Stewart offered rent-free space for storage in a building he owns on Baggett Street.
In the spring 2019, LowCountry Habitat for Humanity provided the land and workforce with TLR paying the cost to build a new facility on Parris Island Gateway, made possible by a generous donation from 100 Women Who Care and many others.
When that facility was recently put up for sale, the search for new space was answered by Beaufort Memorial’s President & CEO Russell Baxley, bringing TLR back to its roots on the hospital campus. The new location, directly across the street from Beaufort Memorial, was made possible through an agreement with the hospital to lease the space to the organization for the token amount of $1 per year.
“Our community partners are extremely important to fulfilling our mission,” said Baxley. “Working with The Lending Room not only ensures continuity of care and assists our most vulnerable patients, but it also offers a convenience for patients discharged from the hospital, as their on-campus location provides easy access, especially for those for whom transportation is a barrier.”
The Lending Room’s new headquarters is located at 954 Ribaut Road on the BMH campus.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
“The success of this effort lies with our TLR team and BMH, but equally important has been the community’s involvement,” said co-director Martha O’Regan. “Many people generously donate items such as shower chairs, transfer benches, wheelchairs, canes, crutches, walkers, and bedside commodes to make this service possible.”
As The Lending Room is a 501(c)(3) organization, those who donate equipment may request a tax receipt for income tax purposes, and any monetary donation is tax-deductible to the extent of the law.
Beneficiaries of the service are many.
For instance, two eight-year-old children with severe handicaps were helped by one donor, Verna Smith. After her husband died, she called to donate a powered wheelchair and a ramp, and her donation radically changed the lives of both children and their families.
An amputee Veteran received his first powered wheelchair from TLR, giving him greater mobility than ever before.
And, when tragedy strikes, TLR has often been a critical resource. A gentleman hit by a car suffered multiple severe injuries, and his release from the hospital depended on the family obtaining a hospital bed, wheelchair, and Hoyer Lift. All three items were in stock and were delivered immediately, expediting his return home.
Volunteer Charlie Ledford has delivered the large equipment for TLR for the past 14 years. Having served in the Marine Corps for 30 years, Charlie finds his experience especially moving.
“Over the years, I have witnessed too many tragedies to count,” he said. “But these situations were made better by the generosity of a community. It has been an honor to serve those in need and alongside many dedicated volunteers.”
The Lending Room is located at 954 Ribaut Road in Beaufort, directly across the street from Beaufort Memorial. The hours are Monday through Friday from 9:30 to 3:30 and Saturday from 8 to 4. For more information about the medical devices available through The Lending Room or to donate gently used medical equipment, visit LendingRoomBeaufort.com or call 843-524-2554.