UT UCEDD Launches Citizens Reutilizing Assistive Technology Equipment (CReATE) Program

December 22, 2008

certified technician Jose refurbishes a wheelchair in the CReATE workshop
Just a few months after officially opening its doors, the Citizens Reutilizing Assistive Technology Equipment (CReATE) program is helping Utahns with disabilities move in a world where expenses and red tape can seem stacked against them.

CReATE, an initiative of the Utah Assistive Technology Program at the Center for Persons with Disabilities, refurbishes mobility devices and provides them at a low cost to people who might not receive them otherwise. The devices are donated and restored at the CReATE workshop in Salt Lake City, where a certified technician makes sure they are safe, dependable and available.

Ken Reid, an assistive technology specialist and funding specialist for the Utah Center for Assistive Technology, evaluates people who come to the CReATE program to ensure that they find the right devices for them. CReATE was designed to help people who might fall through the gaps in service or insurance coverage, he said. Now, with agencies, insurance companies and individuals facing tough economic times, he predicts that the service will become even more important to the state of Utah. "In my opinion it's going to become a huge benefit...that we already have something up and running," he said.

Price and availability are huge obstacles to people who need mobility devices, since manual wheelchairs can cost thousands of dollars, and motorized wheelchairs can run into tens of thousands, depending on the features needed. Even when insurance will cover the purchase of a new chair, the person who needs it must sometimes wait for months for it to arrive.

The situations that bring people to the program are as varied as the people themselves. JoMarie Kelly's daughter, Lanette, had a wheelchair, but she was outgrowing her old chair and it was falling apart. Their insurance covered a new chair, so they ordered one, but after a months-long wait the need for a new chair only grew, along with Lanette. "She was just stuffed into her old chair," JoMarie said.

Lanette needed a working chair for more than just getting around. It was important that Lanette eat from a sitting position, and the chair's security straps gave her the stability she needed to eat safely.

CReATE found her a chair with a head rest, back rest, a special seat that will help prevent sores, and straps across her legs and waist and over her shoulders.

 "I had to pay a fee to get it cleaned and looked over to make sure it was safe," JoMarie said.  As for the new chair she had ordered, after 10 months it came-in the wrong size. In November she was still waiting for the correct one.

Judy Wendel's daughter, Tanna, also had a chair, but the joystick on it was going bad. "From what I understand you can only get one [chair] from Medicaid every five years, and hers was three years old," Judy said. Repairing it would cost $2000; more than she could afford.

After speaking to a case worker from Independent Living, Wendel was connected with the CReATE program. They found a good fit for her daughter, at a price that made it possible to get around.

Cameron Sevy just wanted the independence of going places without having to ask his wife to take him. He needed a faster, safer chair, but at the price of $6000 it was not possible.

He was referred to the CReATE program and found something at a price that brought his goal of getting a new chair within reach.

Cameron is thankful to everyone who made it possible: donors, organizations and technicians who make the devices safe and dependable.

"It's a tremendous service to the people of the state," he said.

The program caught the attention of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, which awarded a $16,500 grant to help put mobility devices into the hands of Utahns who need it most.

Those who qualify for a CReATE device will pay a service fee, and the mobility devices available will depend on the current donated inventory. To find out what mobility devices are available or to make arrangements to acquire or donate, call (801) 887-9398.

Writer:  JoLynne Lyon   435-797-1977

Contact:  Heather Young   435-797-7412

JoMarie Kelly   801-356-0442

Cameron Sevy   801-375-7612

Judy Wendell   801-969-5425