Medical Loan Closet makes it easier for patients to get needed supplies

Lloyd Hanna, president of Medical Loan Closet, is the recipient of the Sister Tarcisia Roths award for not-for-profit.
Lloyd Hanna, president of Medical Loan Closet, is the recipient of the Sister Tarcisia Roths award for not-for-profit. The Wichita Eagle

Bath stools and grab bars. Support rails and transport beds. Electric wheelchairs, crutches and canes.

Used equipment distributed by the Medical Loan Closet may not be glamorous, but it makes a huge difference in the lives of recipients.

Lloyd Hanna, retired owner of a drywall company, started the nonprofit in 2012, when he was 72. Hanna heard about a similar charity in North Carolina on National Public Radio and thought “why not here?” Hanna telephoned the N.C. organization to ask if he could try something similar here and got the go-ahead.

A gold Ford F-150 served as his first office and mobile warehouse. Today, there’s a 10,000-square-feet storage warehouse at 6655 E. Harry that the organization utilizes through a generous arrangement with a supporter. Hanna made about 50 loans the first year. At last count the total is about 8,000. Wheelchair ramps and toilet seat risers are just some of the other items the Medical Closet has saved from the landfill.

Hanna is the 2018 recipient of the Sister Tarcisia Roths award for not-for-profits.

The Medical Loan Closet receives no government funding. Its primary source of what is known as “durable medical equipment” comes donations of cash and equipment from the Wichita area. Donated equipment is inspected, cleaned and repaired if needed before being added to the inventory.

Recipients are those with little income and little or no insurance. Those who can pay a fee of $5 to $25 for the loan, which is open-ended. The application is one page.

The payoff for Hanna? Hugs and many variations of “I don’t know what I would have done.” And the feeling of pride Hanna has in the volunteers who’ve joined him and “continually make the extra effort to help our clients with their needs.” The goal: “Help the underserved with respect.”

Hanna believes the Medical Loan Closet saves taxpayers money, noting that some of the donated items were initially paid for through Medicaid or Medicare. A majority of recipients return the items when they’re done, he said, and he often receives additional useable medical equipment as well.

By the way, he’s still in need of volunteers to increase the number of people Medical Loan Closet can serve (visit medicalloancloset.com for more info). He’s also happy to accept cash. The Closet’s motto: “Happiness comes from helping others…be happy.”

Hanna says his desire to help people may stem from the fact that he is a polio victim assisted by the March of Dimes. A mission trip to Guatemala raised his awareness of poverty.

The Closet has expanded to Winfield, Pratt, Garden City and Denver – thanks, Hanna said, to volunteers in those places.

With his wife, Elaine, five children and 11 grandchildren, Hanna has plenty to keep him busy. He’d like to retire from this second, unpaid job by the age of 80 – next year — but still has a couple of goals, the biggest of which is linking Medical Loan Closet online with similar organizations around the country and world. The organization has already helped missions ship items to Guatemala and El Salvador.

Yet another Medical Loan Closet initiative has been created by a volunteer who has a handicapped child. She’s created a Facebook page of families with similar needs, sending items to 12 states and two foreign countries.

“We want to grow this effort,” Hanna said.