OLEAN – After Sheryl Soborowski saw a Times Herald article announcing the closure of Cornerstone Medical Loan Closet, Olean’s public library staff member knew she had to do something to help.
The plan, which may seem like an unlikely union to some, is for the library to find a new location for the lending closet and to collect and loan medical items to residents of the regional community. The former loan firm, operated by Reverend John Lounsbury, had provided medical supplies to people and agencies in communities across New York State and Pennsylvania for many years. Earlier this summer, Lounsbury announced he could no longer perform it.
Soborowski, who serves as the outreach librarian, said for the business to be successful, however, community partners and a new location will be needed.
“My idea is not unknown in the library world,” Soborowski said. “Libraries currently have collections and lend out everything from telescopes to cake pans. I have heard of libraries offering loan programs for digital media, adaptive toys, fishing rods, seeds and household tools. Our own library system lends museum passes and can perpetuate the loan of adaptive technology from the NYS Talking Book and Braille library.
Soborowski said library director Michelle La Voie and deputy director Kim Mahar support the proposed project and hope the library can partner with the community or church to make the plan work.
“Our lending system, via library cards, would be ideal, even if I had to put barcodes on medical equipment and check them on people,” Soborowski said, explaining that the organization would accept and lend the same type of medical equipment. as in the past.
Soborowski said when she approached former loan firm volunteers, including graduate nurse Vicky McKinney, they were receptive to the facility finding new accommodation. They said customers traveled to the loan closet from as far away as Buffalo and Rochester to borrow walkers, wheelchairs, dressers and hospital beds.
“After talking to (the volunteers), I’m not afraid to pursue this,” Soborowski continued. “I’m actively looking for space because (the library) can’t store things. We are looking for a community partner – it could be a church, it could be a business owner who owns a building, it could be quite long term.
She noted that the space used for a new loaner closet would need to be a first floor location and be fitted with a utility sink to clean items. A washer and dryer, as well as cabinets and shelving in the facility, would also be helpful.
La Voie said that when approached by Soborowski with the idea, she was immediately interested, “as public libraries are increasingly moving towards lending more than books and DVDs.
“They seek to be relevant to their communities on many levels, especially when an unmet need is felt,” La Voie said of libraries.
“And people like it, because sometimes it’s something they only need to use temporarily and can avoid making a big financial investment in it, or they can try it out before buying something. that is unique to them, ”she added. “The community has clearly benefited from the services of Medical Loan Closet, so this represents a real opportunity for the library to step in and make sure it doesn’t go away. “
McKinney agreed there was a need for a loaner closet, but admitted she was surprised when approached by the library. McKinney said if the library was successful in reopening the facility in a new location, she would volunteer to help keep it running.
McKinney noted that the old loan closet, which was located on North Fourth Street, is now virtually empty of inventory.
“I don’t think it will be difficult to get donations and have a full place” for a new loan closet, she noted. “I don’t mind volunteering, it’s a fun thing to do actually. You don’t have to haggle for money and people are so grateful that you can help them out a bit. “
For more information on the proposed project, contact Soborowski at the library at 372-0200.
(Contact reporter Kate Day Sager at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter, @OTHKate)