Corrections or additions?

This article by Barbara Fox was prepared for the February 15, 2006

issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Recycling Rx Equipment

The second time around, she hopes, will be the charm. Geri LaPlaca has

opened a recycling business, Your ReSource Inc., in Ewing. First she

is collecting gently used durable medical equipment – everything from

hospital beds to walkers – and distributing it to those who

desperately need it. Then she will find other ways to snatch other

useful items from the gaping maws of the trash trucks.

LaPlaca began her recycling career with the Trenton Materials

Exchange, the innovative nonprofit founded on a shoestring. When

LaPlaca arrived at TME, she added durable medical goods to its mission

of recycling computers and office furniture. She collected everything

from hospital beds to canes – wheelchairs, walkers, crutches,

commodes, shower chairs, portable ramps, scooters, and patient lifts.

Social workers and hospital discharge planners depended on her for

help with clients whose insurance did not cover equipment or who had

no insurance.

LaPlaca’s new nonprofit will start out by filling the huge need for

used medical equipment with a program called Community Access to

Rehabilitation Equipment (CARE). Recipients are asked to pay a

handling charge, 10 or 20 percent of the cost of new equipment, but no

one will be turned away for lack of funds.

LaPlaca now has a warehouse where equipment can be cleaned and

refurbished. She has a van for pickups and deliveries, and she hopes

to arrange pick-up points throughout the state so that truck pick-ups

will be practical.

LaPlaca, 53, grew up in Princeton, where her father was a barber, a

contractor, and a real estate owner. She trained as a physical

therapist at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, worked

at Duke University Hospital, and did therapy in the home health area.

She moved north to be with her parents and joined Carol Royal, who

founded TME in 2000. After four successful years it closed for lack of

funding support.

Thanks to two anonymous donors and a grant, LaPlaca’s new venture is

funded for at least the first year. After she gets CARE off the ground

she will turn to educating, actually reeducating, the public. "The

mission of the business is to help meet critical community needs –

helping to really educate people," says LaPlaca. "People will take a

new commode that they no longer need and put it at the curb. But there

are 1.2 million people in New Jersey with no health insurance."

She hopes to do collection programs for items like sneakers, laser

cartridges, and fluorescent bulbs. Sneakers can turn into asphalt and

tires, cartridges can be recycled, and fluorescent bulbs pollute the

landfills; Mercer County is not among the counties in New Jersey that

collect them. Says LaPlaca: "We want to push education and we have

some ideas on how we can make it a lot more fun." This new business

is not alone. "Amazing re-use programs are going on over the country,

more of them in the last five years," she says.

"We are telling people, take a little responsibility and donate," she

says. "Clean out your closet of new stuff and what can be reused. And

when you go shopping, think if you really need what you are getting.

We are going to say, ‘You may have what you need at home.’"

Your ReSource Inc., 8 Industry Court, Ewing 08638; 609-530-1513; fax,

609-530-1514. Geri LaPlaca, director.

Community Access to Rehabilitation Equipment.

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