Hospitals in need of crutches/canes across Utah, donations needed

Oct 25, 2021, 7:33 PM | Updated: 8:03 pm
(Portion of the artwork used by the newly launched LeanOnUtah campaign.  Photo: Intermountain Healt...
(Portion of the artwork used by the newly launched LeanOnUtah campaign. Photo: Intermountain Healthcare, Facebook)
(Portion of the artwork used by the newly launched LeanOnUtah campaign. Photo: Intermountain Healthcare, Facebook)

SALT LAKE CITY – Doctors across Utah say they’re seeing an unprecedented and unexpected shortage.  They’re in desperate need of crutches, canes, wheelchairs and walkers and they hope the public can help them fill their needs.

In a normal month, Intermountain Healthcare goes through roughly 1,800 pairs of crutches.  However, Doctor Joey Kamerath says they can’t do that, now.

“Unfortunately, our supply chain ran completely dry of this equipment,” he said.

According to Kamerath, this problem goes beyond the supply chain problems impacting production across the country.  He says the companies that make the walking devices aren’t able to manufacture them. And they have no idea when production will return to normal.

“There are unique issues with obtaining the raw materials needed to create this equipment, and there are also issues at the fabrication stage,” Kamerath said.

Intermountain Healthcare, Steward Healthcare and University of Utah Health are teaming together to launch the LeanOnUtah campaign.  They’re asking everyone to look in their garages, attics, bedrooms, closets and crawlspaces to find any unused crutches, canes, walkers and wheelchairs and donate them to nearby hospitals.  Steward Healthcare Chief Nursing Officer Martha Gamble says nine hospitals across the state will be collecting unused walking devices so they can be inspected, cleaned and repaired before they’re given to other patients.

Gamble said, “Let’s be proactive before it becomes a tremendous crisis.”

Doctors say crutches are needed more in the end of the calendar year than the beginning.  University of Utah Health Orthopedic Surgeon Darrel Brodke says more people schedule their elective and orthopedic surgeries before new insurance policies go into effect at the beginning of the year.  Plus, more people get injured from skiing and other winter activities, and crutches are needed to help those people recover.

Brodke says he has never seen a crutch shortage like this in his entire career.

“I’ve been in orthopedic surgery around this country for the better part of 30+ years, and I’ve never seen the supply chain issue assistive walking devices,” he said.

Health officials are planning to collect these walking devices between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. over the next three Saturdays.  People can find donation spots by logging on to the LeanOnUtah page of Intermountain Healthcare’s website.

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Hospitals in need of crutches/canes across Utah, donations needed