Changes made to Red Cross program in Port Hawkesbury

PORT HAWKESBURY: The Canadian Red Cross is modifying a service in Port Hawkesbury that provides free, short-term loans of wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, commodes, bath-transfer seats and other mobility aids for people recovering from injury, illness or surgery.

The Red Cross service is known as the Health Equipment Loan Program (HELP). Since 2014,  HELP items could be both picked up and returned to a depot inside the Medicine Shoppe pharmacy at 708 Reeves Street in Port Hawkesbury, thanks to space donated by pharmacist Michael Hatt and supported by volunteers. Effective immediately, Red Cross equipment can no longer be picked up from the Port Hawkesbury location but can still be returned there.

Instead, all HELP loans for residents of Richmond, southern Inverness and Guysborough counties, as well as Antigonish County, will be issued from the Canadian Red Cross office at 36 Market Street in Antigonish, where the majority of loans were already being processed. The Red Cross will transport items that are still returned to the Port Hawkesbury depot back to Antigonish, thanks to funding support from the Eastern Zone of the Nova Scotia Health Authority.

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HELP loans for northern Inverness and other areas of Cape Breton are issued by volunteers at the Canadian Red Cross service centre at 1140 Upper Prince Street in Sydney.

HELP loans are typically for up to three months and require a written recommendation from a doctor or other health-care provider. More information is on-line at: redcross.ca/HELP.

The Red Cross will also accept donations of used mobility aids in good condition that can be added to its HELP inventory. Anyone interested in donating equipment or who previously borrowed equipment but hasn’t returned it, or is interested in volunteering with the program, can call between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday, at 902-863-8222 in Antigonish or 902-564-4114 in Sydney.