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Municipal 2018
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Fergus Legion ending loans of medical equipment

by Aryn Strickland

FERGUS - The Legion branch here has decided to stop lending out medical equipment, including wheelchairs and canes, because of concerns about liability.

Members of the Legion board voted at a general meeting in late September to end the initiative.

In a time when equipment is more readily available, the program is no longer worth the risk of being sued, says both the branch president and director of the provincial command.

 “I think some people will certainly be disappointed ... [but] we live in a very litigious society and the liability was just too great,” said Fergus Legion president Randy Graham.

Over the years the Legion has lent out wheelchairs, walkers, commodes, bed rails, canes and bathing equipment to the community. Individuals could come into the Legion on Blair Street and sign out whatever was available. Ten pieces of equipment could be loaned out at any one time, said Graham.

But according to Pamela Sweeny, executive director of the Ontario Provincial Command of the Royal Canadian Legion, each item would have to be checked by a certified technician before it could be insured, which can cost upwards of $2,500.

In the past few years, she explained, people have followed a trend in the United States and started suing Legions over faulty equipment.

After multiple cases, Provincial Command issued several recommendations - the last in 2017 - that Legions stop lending out the devices.

However, Sweeny adds that Legions function autonomously and are not obligated to follow directions from Provincial Command.

For the Fergus Legion, a lack of storage space forced the issue. As the baby boomer population ages, Graham said donations of medical equipment have exceeded the Legion’s ability to handle them.

“It’s taken up all of the storage room that we need and it is cramping our other things that we need, such as poppy drive materials and other things we do,” he said.

The Fergus Legion will continue to collect pop tab donations, though those donations will be sent on to the Elora Legion Branch 229.

Graham said the Legion’s collection of equipment will be donated to local resident Ted Buczek, who has sent hospital supplies to the Dominican Republic in the past and now will take functional equipment to Haiti.  

Legions in Erin, Harriston and Arthur will continue to lend out wheelchairs. The Elora Legion will continue to lend out wheelchairs and walkers, but to free up space, it has given away other medical equipment.

Palmerston and Mount Forest Legion officials did not reply by press time.

 

October 12, 2018

 
 

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