GREELEY, Colo. (AP) – Heather Bennetts got her daughter’s favorite mobile chair at GoodHealthWill. It’s an old chair. Bennetts bought it used from her own store. Though it has some years behind it, the chair is worn in and comfy.
Her daughter, Emma, is quadriplegic from a form of cerebral palsy that she got from oxygen deprivation at birth. Comfort is one of the few luxuries she can enjoy.
Bennetts of Eaton got to know others with disabled family members. She found they had a lot in common: They needed expensive medical supplies.
That’s when Bennetts had the idea for GoodHealthWill, a nonprofit company that functions like a medical supply thrift store. From 2006 to 2011, she ran an informal supplies exchange out of her garage in Loveland. She decided to move to a more official building when her home filled up. People donated medical supplies faster than she could find people who needed them. She needed something more like a warehouse.
Now, there are GoodHealthWill stores in Greeley, Loveland and Brighton.
Wheelchairs, feeding tubes, CPAP machines, diabetic supplies, oxygen tubing, rehabilitation boots, formula and more now sit neatly in their assigned compartments in her three stores.
Often, folks come in because they simply can’t afford expensive supplies. It could be because they are uninsured or their insurance won’t cover certain things, such as caregiver aids. Before the Affordable Care Act went into effect, people would come to the store because they’d reached their lifetime limit of insurance coverage and still needed supplies.
Sometimes, people come in because they can’t wait for items to be approved by insurance, such as bathroom safety products.
“When people need bathroom safety, usually they needed it yesterday before they fell,” Bennetts said.
Whatever the reason, anyone is welcome, Bennetts said.
If people can’t afford something, even at the thrift store price, GoodHealthWill has a Pay it Forward fund. People can use it, no questions asked. Bennetts said she hasn’t seen any abuse of that. Generally, people don’t want to use it. When they do, they often give back when they can.
Bennetts remembered one man who came into the store. He looked lost until he spotted her and Emma. He told her his son had an ATV accident. His son flipped over the handlebars and was, like Emma, a quadriplegic. When he came into the store, he discovered how many supplies were available that could help caretakers. It was a huge relief for him.
Even health care professionals are amazed at what they find in GoodHealthWill, Bennetts said.
Bennetts knows first-hand how much of a difference affordable supplies can make in someone’s life.
“Now, they can pay their rent and their utilities,” Bennetts said. “We’ve saved other agencies money because the cost of medical supplies doesn’t have to be made up with food, clothing and housing assistance.”