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Lending a hand: Milligan MSOT students launch Lending Locker to provide pediatric equipment for the community

Note: As of 2018, Lending Locker is no longer active. All remaining equipment was donated to a pediatric therapy clinic in Johnson City.

MILLIGAN COLLEGE, Tenn. (March 30, 2015) — When Allana Leonard was born, she suffered from delayed development. After turning 19 months old, Leonard needed extra help.

Then, her mom, Melissa Leonard, heard about a new project starting at Milligan College.

As part of a research project, two graduate students in Milligan’s Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (MSOT) program, Rachel Polletta and Krystle Eiting, launched a lending locker for pediatric equipment—the only program of its kind in the Tricities area, and possibly farther—which they hope will give families in the community direct access to the critical pediatric equipment for their children they couldn’t otherwise afford.

“We see Milligan’s Lending Locker as a way to serve the underserved in our community,” said Polletta, who is from Columbus, Ohio, “as well as teach them more about occupational therapy.”

Medical equipment like walkers, wheelchairs or feeding chairs can range from $50 to $2000 dollars on the market, but often those basic medical needs can wreak havoc for some families in this region, who might have other escalating medical costs to pay.

“Pediatric therapy equipment is very expensive and many insurances will not cover the equipment,” said Eiting, who is from Homer Glen, Illinois. “As a result, these children do not have access to this equipment that can be beneficial, if not life changing, for them.”

Dr. Christy Isbell, professor of occupational therapy, hopes that physical therapists, occupational therapists and speech pathologists will get the equipment for their patients, but she said parents also could check it out directly for their child from the Lending Locker for free—no strings attached.

“All they need to do is get in touch with us, sign out the item and they can take it home for as long as they need it,” said Isbell, who came up with the idea for the project for her students.

The Lending Locker also allows families to test-drive the equipment and see if it fits their needs.

“Often families can’t do that when purchasing it new,” said Isbell.

In order for the Lending Locker to continue helping the community, it needs items lent to it as well.

“Families with pediatric equipment can donate if a child is no longer using it and pass it on to a child in need,” said Isbell.
The equipment needs to be clean and in good working order.

Through the Lending Locker, Allana Leonard’s physical therapist, Vicki Gragg, was able to get the child the medical equipment she needed for home use—an orthopedic walker.

“It’s helping tremendously,” said Melissa, who lives with her daughter in Watauga, Tennessee. “It will give her the confidence that she can go where she wants to and still be in control.”

For more information on the Lending Locker program, visit or call 423.975.8010.

To learn more about Milligan, visit

Posted by on March 30, 2015.