Orlando medical equipment bank helps those with disabilities take step toward independence

Wayne Gardner has been getting results at Stepping Stone Medical Equipment Bank for more than two decades

ORLANDO, Fla. – There are many services available for seniors and people with low income, but oftentimes, the challenge is finding those services and then knowing if you’re eligible.

Well, that was the case for one News 6 viewer and her mom.

Andrea Picarelli needed a piece of mobility equipment for her mother, Gloria Bosko. At 81, Bosko has health problems that increase her fall risk.

“A few years ago during the pandemic, she slipped making her bed and broke her foot and ankle,” Picarelli said. “That was scary.”

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An in-home physical therapist and an occupational therapist both recommended a safety transfer bench for Bosko’s bath and shower.

“They said, ‘Yeah, this is dangerous,’” Picarelli recalled. “She just had a shower chair and had to step over the side of the tub.”

Picarelli and her mom live together and both rely on Social Security. Picarelli said their Medicare coverage wouldn’t pay for the bench and their fixed income leaves little room for extras.

“Some of them were over $100. I’m like, ‘Where am I going to get that money from?’” Picarelli said. “Any extras would take food off the table.”

Picarelli called around and a social worker recommended checking with the Seniors First program called Stepping Stone Medical Equipment Bank.

That’s when they not only found someone who could help, but said they found an “angel.”

“I got on the phone and called Wayne. I was surprised at how warm, friendly and enthusiastic and eager to help (he was),” Picarelli said.

Wayne is Wayne Gardner, senior director of Stepping Stone Medical Equipment Bank in Orlando. He’s been helping seniors for 30 years and talks about medical equipment with a knowledge and excitement that few could match.

“That call, they were at their wits’ end,” Gardner recalled. “Insurance didn’t cover the item. What do you do?”

Gardner said Seniors First is there to help seniors and disabled adults remain in their home as long as possible by providing the appropriate equipment at the appropriate time.

“She was down. She had nowhere to turn, she didn’t know what to do. She was worried that she couldn’t leave the home,” Gardner said about the call with Picarelli.

Gardner knew exactly what Bosko needed and sent it to their home right away.

“I thought of News 6 and the Getting Results Award because it was so amazing of him to be so enthusiastic, warm, friendly and so easy to work with,” Picarelli said. “In less that 24 hours, we had the tub safety bench.”

Picarelli said she wanted to make sure Gardner was recognized.

“The reason I contacted News 6 is because Wayne is amazing. He’s an angel sent from heaven to help us and I’m just so grateful,” she added.

Gardner said he just likes to help. He watched his grandparents struggle with walking as they aged. Gardner said he remembered a worker coming to their home to teach them how to care for one another.

“I said, ‘Isn’t that a powerful thing to know how to do things at your worst time in life?’” He watched them age into their 90s. I’ve taken that to heart,” said Gardner, pointing to the front door of the Stepping Stone show room. “When people walk through that door, the answer is, ‘What can we do to help?’”

Gardner said with the right help, you don’t have to give up on the dream of staying in your home and cost shouldn’t be an obstacle.

“I’m so glad she shared this story with you because there are people out there that are hurting and don’t think there’s any help for them,” he added.

Picarelli saidshe sleeps better at night now knowing her mom is safer and not going to have another accident.

Stepping Stone receives the majority of its inventory through the generosity of individuals who donate new and used medical equipment. It is then sanitized, refurbished, sold and, in the case of larger or more specialized items, delivered to clients’ homes. This is one of the only licensed, nonprofit programs providing refurbished, durable medical equipment in the state.

Learn more by calling 407-649-4100. To purchase or donate equipment, click here.

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About the Author:

Paul is a Florida native who graduated from the University of Central Florida. As a multimedia journalist, Paul enjoys profiling the people and places that make Central Florida unique.