Volunteers with former Medical Loan Closet

Longtime volunteer Vicky McKinney (at right) is shown speaking with an individual borrowing medical equipment from the former Cornerstone Medical Loan Closet in Olean. McKinney and other volunteers with the organization are hopeful of finding space and a sponsoring agency to reopen the much-need service for the Twin Tiers area.

OLEAN — The former Cornerstone Medical Loan Closet, which had provided equipment to area residents and agencies for a number of years at little or no cost, continues to search for a new home.

Vicky McKinney, who had served as a longtime volunteer for the organization that loaned out the equipment, said a hoped-for home at the Olean Public Library has not come to fruition.

After the Medical Loan Closet was closed by founder Rev. John Lounsbury last summer, the library had hoped to continue the program because of the much-needed service it had provided to people and agencies in communities in New York state and Pennsylvania.

Sheryl Soborowski, outreach librarian for the Olean library, however, announced the facility could not take on the project after all.

“The library researched the Medical Loan Closet project from every angle, since we so badly wanted to pursue it for the community,” Soborowski said. “In the end, our insurance carrier was unable to provide us with the necessary coverage in order for it to work.”

McKinney said that while the news is a disappointment, she and other volunteers who have worked for the organization in the past are hopeful there may be a business or agency that might be able to help. McKinney said she still receives requests from people in need of medical equipment, or from those who want to donate items they no longer have need of.

“They don’t want to shop (for medical equipment) or drive up to Buffalo or wherever they would have to go to buy stuff,” McKinney said of people in need of items.

She recalls there were people and therapists from area agencies in New York state and Pennsylvania who made trips to the former loan closet in Olean to get items for relatives and patients.

“We had people from Rochester coming down here because they couldn’t find certain things,” she commented.

McKinney said all of the equipment that had been housed at the loan closet has been given away. But she continues to hear from people who want to donate equipment.

“People have (medical items) in their garages and they want to get rid of it,” she explained. “Or some are trying to keep it because they’re hoping we would reopen by now.”

She said an area businessman has offered space for a new, large location for the loan closet, but the organization needs a sponsoring agency to operate the program.

“We don’t necessarily need (the larger space), but I can’t believe there isn’t somebody that doesn’t have something they could offer us (a smaller space), even if it’s temporary,” McKinney added. “But the first step is to get a sponsoring agency.”

For those agencies or businesses that might be able to sponsor the organization, or have a heated, lighted space for its occupancy, McKinney asks that they contact her by email at vickymckinney@roadrunner.com

“We don’t need anything fancy,” she concluded.

(Contact reporter Kate Day Sager at kates_th@yahoo.com. Follow her on Twitter, @OTHKate)

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