August 11, 2014 11:02 AM   Subscribe

How can I get rid of a small stock of unused and unopened medical supplies?

My mother passed away from cancer last month. She was receiving in-home hospice care for six weeks. The hospice organization sent us supplies packaged by Medline. We have many unused supplies and I am trying to find a place for them. They are listed below. I am contacting local charities, but many refuse to take them and I am finding many defunct websites and I am wondering if it would be easier to sell the unopened items on eBay or just donate them to the Salvation Army/Goodwill. I'm particularly interested in donating to other elderly/disabled people or to the Ebola crisis in Africa.

I'm aware of similar questions on AskMe but those from a few years ago are out of date.

Sealed medical equipment
2 adult oxygen masks
2 Medline catheter piston irrigation trays
2 Medline Foley catheterization trays
1 urinary drainage bag
1 catheter strap

1 Inflatable bed shampooer (Rose brand), not opened or used

Disposable sanitary supplies
FitRight medium adult incontinence briefs (20 per pack)
4 sealed packs

CVS women’s incontinence briefs, small/medium (18 per packs)
1 pack, sealed

Curad 3G vinyl gloves, medium (100 per pack)
3 boxes sealed

Medline Shampoo & Body Wash
2 bottles

Soothe & Cool perineal wash
4 bottles

Soothe & Cool barrier cream
4 tubes
Soothe & Cool moisturizing body lotion
1 tube

DenTips (bag of 20 swabs)
4 bags, unopened

Other items include 2 hospital gowns, 2 waterproof mattress pads, and many Utopia brand washcloths, all of which have been used and laundered.
posted by bad grammar to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
posted by geegollygosh at 11:09 AM on August 11, 2014

Talk to your hospice worker directly. I had a visiting nurse this year who gladly took my extra supplies once my treatment finished. She distributed them to her patients whose insurance was not as generous as mine.
posted by tenderman kingsaver at 11:10 AM on August 11, 2014 [7 favorites]

You didn't specify this, but you need to contact specifically local charities that stockpile and ship medical supplies or allow people going on medical missions to take their supplies. Americares is a major one that I'm aware of. Most large academic medical centers also have teams who travel to provide medical care in underserved areas, but you may not be able to get a tax write-off for giving your goods to them, and it may take a little bit of detective work to find them (hint: look for an Office of Global Health at the medical school and contact them for leads).

There are also places that provide transitional housing for homeless people who have short term medical needs, I'm not sure if you have one such place in your area but they may accept in-kind donations like this.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 11:25 AM on August 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

p.s. for the Ebola crisis, for the most part it is going to make more sense for charities who are addressing that crisis to buy locally in West Africa or to buy in bulk - shipping is very expensive and can negate the savings of getting free stuff, and processing many small equipment donations takes a lot of time and energy that they could be using for other purposes.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 11:27 AM on August 11, 2014 [4 favorites]

If you list this on the "Free" section in Craigslist, it's likely someone will be very very happy to have it.

They will probably come pick it up, but sometimes the people who need stuff like this the most will have trouble driving, so if you want to be super giving, you could take it to them (meet them somewhere, bring a friend, be safe, etc.).

When posting, you might want to ask that the recipient include a description of why they need it (to filter out people who will get _anything_ free whether they need it or not). Also, decide whether you're willing to donate to multiple people, or if you insist that the recipient pick up all the supplies. It seems like most of the supplies are needed by someone with two specific and common conditions - maybe specify that.

Be ready to check your e-mail very soon after posting, and to take the ad down as soon as you have 2-3 good candidates, otherwise you might get a lot of responses that make you feel sad that you don't have more stuff to give them.

In case you're not familiar with Craigslist:
quick link to post to "free" section for Washington, DC
link to main Washington, DC Craigslist
posted by amtho at 11:39 AM on August 11, 2014

On chronic illness lists, I have seen people offer to mail things like that to anyone who wants it, sometimes with the stipulation that the person receiving it needs to pay the postage. If you belonged to an online support group of some sort while she was ill, that might be a place to start putting the word out.
posted by Michele in California at 11:43 AM on August 11, 2014

If your mother's hospice care was being paid for by any kind of insurance, including Medicare, it would be illegal to sell those items on eBay.

I strongly second talking to the hospice itself; I had tons of leftover ostomy supplies after mine was reversed, and my ostomy nurse accepted all of them in a heartbeat.
posted by telegraph at 1:13 PM on August 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

In addition to telegraph's point about insurance, there can be other legality issues if any of these items are prescription/controlled items. In other words, if anything on that list requires a prescription by a physician to get access to it, even giving it away (not selling) to specific individuals may be a problem. That may not be an issue if you donate it to an agency where medical personnel can distribute it to needy individuals.
posted by Michele in California at 1:24 PM on August 11, 2014

Talk to the hospice. If they can't/won't take them, try the Red Cross.

But double check with the insurance company before doing any of that.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:24 PM on August 11, 2014

You might want to ask your mother's doctor's office.

When I switched insulin pumps, I had three boxes of infusion sets the company wouldn't take back - I asked my doctor, and he took them to give to patients who were having trouble paying for their own.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:27 PM on August 11, 2014

It's iffy for hospice nurses though, I cannot take any supplies from home and give them to another due to cross contamination issues. I always donate supplies to the local animal shelter, they often use the exact same stuff though perhaps in different capacities.
posted by yodelingisfun at 12:26 PM on August 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Shortly after I posted, a nearby assisted living facility that I had contacted said they would take the supplies. I brought over the boxes of sealed unused items. Thank you for your advice.
posted by bad grammar at 1:25 PM on August 13, 2014

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