DPT student Diptee Pathak works as a home healthcare physical therapy assistant, dealing with numerous patients who use mobility equipment on a daily basis. Through her work, she realized that many patients simply do not have enough equipment or need different types of durable medical equipment (DME).
Pathak, who will graduate in 2021, knew that many former PT patients had mobility equipment not being used and taking up space in their attics and garages. Last September, she posted a request on social media to donate this equipment, and her recycling efforts took off.
“In this pandemic there are people who are not able to access this equipment. I wanted to help people in need, so I reached out on social media,” Pathak said.
Word spread through the Neumann University DPT program and soon Kate Jester, a first year DPT student, jumped in to help Pathak collect and distribute the equipment. Jester also started a GoFundMe page to collect monetary donations that are being used to purchase DME. The original goal was $500, which has already been achieved.
The DME recycle program has grown so much that Pathak decided to create a non-profit organization. The domain DMEdonations.org will be live in a few weeks. She has also been accepting monetary donations through her Venmo account and has raised over $2,000.
“We are really excited to help so many people,” said Pathak, who not only collects and disinfects the DME but also delivers it to patients.
Pathak and Jester are using this outreach program to fulfill their DPT service-learning requirement. According to Pathak, in order to graduate they each need to complete 40 hours of service learning.
Jester, who works as a PT aid in an outpatient clinic, knew that her former patients had equipment that they no longer needed. For her, the best part of being involved with this recycling effort is when she gives the equipment to patients in need.
“At my clinic, we have a lot of patients who only need equipment for a short period of time. It makes you feel so great seeing all of the donations and then giving them to people,
Pathak, who has primarily been distributing equipment in Delaware and Pennsylvania, plans on expanding the DME recycling program to New Jersey and New York.
As a child, Pathak was diagnosed with Erb’s palsy, a weakening of the nerves in the neck, and was a PT patient herself. This experience inspired her to seek a PT career, and she considers herself very fortunate to be able to help people.
“I love the fact that you can tap into your body and make a change,” Pathak said. “That is so inspiring.”