Utah health systems seek crutches, wheelchair donations amid supply shortage

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Health officials in Utah are urging the public to donate metal crutches, wheelchairs, walkers and canes amid an aluminum shortage that has depleted hospitals of their supply of mobility-assist equipment, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. 

At an Oct. 25 news conference, Intermountain Healthcare and University of Utah Health, both based in Salt Lake City, along with Dallas-based Steward Health and the Utah Hospital Association, launched a donation drive called LeanOnUtah to collect mobility-assist equipment from the community. Donation drives are scheduled at nine hospitals. 

Health officials said the shortage is due to pandemic-related global supply chain disruptions and an aluminum shortage, according to The Salt Lake Tribune

Glen Beeby, a spokesperson for Intermountain Healthcare, urged residents to look in their homes for unused equipment to donate, particularly before November and December, which are the busiest times of the year for orthopedic surgeries. 

Joey Kamerath, MD, senior medical director for rehabilitation services at Intermountain Healthcare, told The Salt Lake Tribune he's never seen a supply shortage like this. 

His department's supply chain has run "completely dry," he said. 

Suppliers have told hospitals they don't know when they'll have more equipment to sell, said Dr. Kamerath. 

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