Project CARAT now located in Louisville, Paducah
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Jan. 11, 2016) — Project CARAT (Coordinating and Assisting the Reuse of Assistive Technology) is expanding statewide to help people with disabilities who cannot afford durable medical equipment (DME) or assistive technology.
The program, which has served Appalachian Eastern Kentucky for the past three years with locations in Hazard and Thelma, has added sites in Louisville and Paducah that will collect, clean, repair and redistribute medical equipment and assistive technology to Kentuckians who need it but do not have insurance or funds to pay for it.
“We are excited about expanding coverage to all of Kentucky because Project CARAT has helped so many people in Eastern Kentucky who do not have insurance or resources to buy medical equipment such as wheelchairs, shower chairs and hospital beds to lead safer, more independent lives,” said Dave Matheis, Program Planning and Development Branch manager at the Kentucky Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR).
Since it was launched in 2012, Project CARAT has provided more than 700 pieces of free equipment valued at more $298,000 to more than 300 individuals with disabilities.
Like the first two locations, the centers in Louisville and Paducah have developed a network of providers and volunteers who donate devices or identify and collect unused assistive technology and DME; recondition and refurbish the equipment to make it suitable for use; and redistribute the equipment to individuals who need it and are unable to acquire it otherwise.
In Louisville, Spalding University is housing the center and its occupational therapy students are volunteering their services while learning how to repair and clean donated devices.
In Paducah, Lourdes Hospital has donated renovated space for volunteers to operate the center. The Center for Accessible Living in Murray is assisting with this site’s implementation. Students from West Kentucky Community and Technical College are staffing the center.
“Project CARAT is a tremendous resource and savings for people with disabilities or chronic health problems and their caregivers and families,” said Matheis. “It can keep people independent and in their homes longer or help them make a successful transition from a rehabilitation facility to home. It also gives students valuable learning experiences in their fields of study. And it keeps medical equipment that could be reutilized from ending up in the garbage because people don’t know what to do with it when they don’t need it anymore.”
Equipment offered and needed for donation at the sites include Hoyer Lifts, shower chairs, toilet chairs, manual and power wheelchairs, power scooters, hospital beds, lift chairs, rollator walkers, stair lifts, canes, bed rails, standers, crutches and portable ramps for wheelchairs, augmentative communication devices, exercise equipment, environmental controls and hearing aids.
Funding for the program is through the Kentucky Assistive Technology Services (KATS) Network in OVR. It is a collaboration of several partners including the Kentucky Appalachian Rural Rehabilitation Network (KARRN), the Bluegrass Technology Center (BTC), the University of Kentucky Division of Physical Therapy, Lourdes Hospital, Enabling Technologies (enTECH) of Kentuckiana at Spalding University, West Kentucky Community and Technical College and KATS.
The program began with a federal grant from Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) as a rural health care outreach program in Eastern Kentucky. The $450,000 grant provided funding over three years for Project CARAT to purchase equipment to sanitize and repair medical devices, and set up a distribution network.