Healthcare is expensive — and, most of the time, so is medical equipment. Whether you need a wheelchair because you broke your leg, or if you have a disability that requires special equipment, it can be costly.
That’s where Friends of Disabled Adults and Children, or FODAC, comes in. The Georgia-based organization’s mission is to provide durable medical equipment such as wheelchairs and hospital beds at little or no cost to individuals with disabilities and their families.
And at the edge of Tucker and Stone Mountain, FODAC has a 65,000 square-foot facility, where it runs all of its operations. That includes storage and a refurbishing workshop — where they clean and repair durable medical equipment — as well as their home goods thrift store and administrative offices.
President and CEO of FODAC Chris Brand gave “Closer Look” producer Emilia Brock a tour of the facility.
“People will drive here from all over the state, actually, to get equipment from us — and out of state,” Brand said. “So, 15 to 20 states get something from us every year, because we really don’t have geographic boundaries.”
According to Brand, these surrounding states rely on FODAC because there aren’t very many facilities like this.
“As far as the size and scope, there’s really not one bigger than us out there,” he said. “But we do have a few that we partner with around the country.”
The access to this durable medical equipment comes with a one-time $25 registration. FODAC does not bill for Medicare or Medicaid, and there are no copays. The equipment is often donated to FODAC, at which point they clean and repair it, replace batteries, and get it ready to distribute to clients.
Rufus Fields is a FODAC employee who works in the repair shop, primarily on power wheelchairs or other motorized equipment.
“Most work I do is replace the batteries, putting new batteries in them,” Fields said. “Sometimes we have to change the tires — the tires are worn. But we make sure it’s safe and looks good for the clients.”
And the workshop doesn’t just work on refurbishing donated items.
“They’re also doing about 60 walk-in repairs a month, which is a lot,” Brand said. “People will many times will bring their equipment to us, even if they didn’t get it from us to get it fixed.”
If you bring your items in for a repair, that service comes with an extra fee, to compensate for the labor and help offset costs. But there is also a home goods thrift store located at FODAC, which also helps finance its operations. The rest of their operations happen through a variety of creative partnerships, generous donations, and grants.
In addition to medical equipment, FODAC has collected donations of children’s toys. Why?
To stock up their “Founder’s Room”, which was built by FODAC’s founder Ed Butchart before he retired. Butchart was a Santa Claus for 23 years at Stone Mountain Park, and the toys are collected to give to children who come to FODAC for medical equipment.
“You open the door and it lights up: the tree, all these moving, animated Santas,” Brand said. “It’s all wired to come on when we roll the kid in the door. It’s a Santa Wonderland in here!”
There’s even a motorized train set that makes its way around the room’s ceiling.
“They’re here for a medical appointment, almost, so they’re not always as happy as their parents are,” Brand said. “But by the time they come in here, they’re definitely all smiles.”
Friends of Disabled Adults and Children is located at 4900 Lewis Road, Stone Mountain, Georgia.