The Thurston County Medical Equipment Bank evolved informally in the early 1980’s with various workers in senior related programs acquiring used wheelchairs and other assistive equipment. After gradually collecting these items they began building volume in their office corner and closets, so they began loaning the equipment out.
Soon thereafter, the Senior Providers group found a donated mini-storage and a volunteer, Shirley Thompson, to run the “Senior Providers Medical Equipment Bank” program. The Senior Providers is a loose group of people in the field who gather monthly to discuss like-issues. During the monthly meetings, Shirley would report to the Senior Providers, and our Council on Aging, the status of the bank; she and the Medical Equipment Bank acted as free agents.
Not being a 5013C, Senior Providers could not offer tax write-off, and “members” were not protected from liability and didn’t have many of the other benefits of a 5013c organization provides. Senior Providers considered dropping the program. During one of the monthly meetings in the late 1980’s, Rick Crawford, director of Thurston Mason Senior News, volunteered to take the Medical Equipment Bank under his wing and give it an official non-profit parent.
After a few years Shirley retired and the mini-storage space was no longer donated for free. The bank was offered a 50 percent discount, but eventually this offer was also removed, forcing the Thurston County Medical Equipment Bank to pay full price for the storage unit. As a result of the large hike in storage rent costs, the bank was moved to a less expensive and more accessible location.
In Honor of Ann Burgman – MEB’s New Home
Ann Burgman had always been very involved in the community. She was a generous, loving, and caring person. When Ann became ill, she needed medical equipment quickly. The Burgmans were not aware of the Thurston County Medical Equipment Bank (MEB) at the time, so they purchased medical equipment and supplies out-of-pocket.
After Ann passed, her friend, Joyce Willms, discovered the MEB through a conversation with Rick Crawford of the Thurston Mason Senior News. The MEB was in great need of a new location, so Joyce talked with Ann’s husband, Tim Burgman, about donating space in the basement of his business, Woodlawn Funeral Home, Cemetery & Cremation, in honor of his late wife, Ann. Tim readily agreed and made the necessary preparations to host the MEB. Woodlawn boasts an expansive basement, and after making room, a total of 1,200 square feet of space was cleared to house the MEB’s donations.
Since 2012, the Burgman family and Woodlawn have donated space and utilities for the MEB in honor of Ann’s memory.