In May of 2015, a St. Mary Medical Center colleague was searching for an organization where she could donate medical equipment that was still in good condition but was no longer needed. Unable to find a place for her donation and thinking others might face the same challenge, St. Mary decided to fill the need.

Using a model unlike anything else in the region, St. Mary’s volunteer department along with the Community League of St. Mary secured a storefront adjacent to St. Mary’s thrift store to open the St. Mary Community Aid Refurbished Equipment Store (St. Mary CARES) in mid-June. The CARES program, staffed entirely by volunteers acts as a free medical device library, where patients with a valid medical device prescription can “check out” whatever equipment they need, for as long as they need it. The equipment is completely free and only collected via donations. 

In 2017, CARES received nearly 900 pieces of donated equipment and over 600 requests for use of those items. St. Mary continues to accept equipment and cash donations from individuals or businesses as well as connect with local health care providers, veterans groups and former recipients of CARES equipment to donate or re-donate so the cycle of giving can continue. Our goal is to continue to provide our community the ability to obtain affordable medical equipment when they need it most, to remove barriers of access to medical equipment because of high cost, having no medical insurance, or because they are needed short term.

The success of the CARES program led to its recent nomination for a 2018 Achievement Citation, by the Catholic Health Association - the association’s highest honor for exceptional, innovative programming that delivers measurable results for the community. 

For more information on CARES, please visit