Sunday, October 24, 2021

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Durable Medical Equipment supports quality of life during COVID and beyond

In the early 2000s the folks at Missouri Breaks realized there was a huge need for medical supplies in the Cheyenne River area. As a result, Missouri Breaks launched its Durable Medical Equipment division to meet the need. Little did they know the key role the company would play to protect Native peoples in the global pandemic two decades later.

Serving the community

“Many DME companies were not serving here because it was too far away. All people need access to medical supplies. We believe that a person’s rural address should not be a factor in their access to items that can improve their health and quality of life,” says Rae O’Leary, Public Health Analyst and Program Coordinator of Missouri Breaks Research Institute in Eagle Butte.

“All of our staff are from Cheyenne River. This is our home. Our office staff includes Blaine O’Leary from rural Timber Lake, Jewel Bettelyoun, Duray Moran, Jerome Slides Off, and Janelle Davison all from Eagle Butte, and Sharon Quinn from rural Trail City,” says O’Leary. “We all take great pride in serving our community.”

Durable Medical Equipment delivers to a very large area in order to turn their belief in serving the community into action. The office has patients from the Black Hills in the west to the Missouri River in the east, and from the North Dakota border to all the way south to Pierre, covering about half of the state of South Dakota in area. They have been one of the only DME companies that serve the Cheyenne River area with home medical equipment for several years now. 

Supplies for quality of life

Durable medical equipment, or DMEs, is any medical equipment used in the home to help improve quality of life. There are DME businesses all over the world that supply products to their community or region.

According to O’Leary, “The Missouri Breaks website,, features some of our most common supplies, like bathroom and bed safety items, incontinence products, mobility aids, and nutritional supplements. We do carry more items than this, but there are some we don’t offer such as prosthetics.”

Working harder during COVID

As an essential business, Durable Medical Equipment did not have the option to shut down when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

The Durable Medical Equipment and Missouri Breaks staffs always stays busy, but COVID took it to a new extreme, according to O’Leary. “Our small staff have stepped up to work long days, nights, and weekends to get the job done. For example, we have had roughly twice as many oxygen setups during the pandemic. It used to be that only people with chronic lung conditions needed oxygen, now we are also supplying oxygen to patients recovering from COVID-19.”

Supplies are hard to come by since the beginning of the pandemic due to increased demands worldwide. Missouri Breaks has been doing their best to anticipate the increased needs. So far, they have been able to accommodate almost all orders. O’Leary reports that they feel well prepared for the next surge of COVID-19.

Clients from age zero to 100

Durable Medical Equipment has clients from 0 to 100+. Their youngest customers are newborn babies that may need an apnea monitor that alarms the parents if they stop breathing or biliblankets for high bilirubin. (Newborns often have trouble breaking down bilirubin in the blood and biliblankets treat neonatal jaundice.)

Some customers that are children may need nebulizer machines to deliver their breathing medicine, or crutches for a broken leg. Their adult and elderly customers may need oxygen machines, hospital beds, wheelchairs, or shower chairs. Regardless of the age of customers, Durable Medical Equipment does their best to get the supplies they need.

How to get DME

If you need DME supplies, the best place to start is with your healthcare provider, states O’Leary. Your healthcare providers can help determine what you need and write a prescription for the supplies and send it directly to Missouri Breaks.

Once they get the prescription and necessary paperwork from your healthcare providers’ office, they can find out if we can provide the items through your insurance or another program. If the items are only partially covered, or not covered, there is sometimes a fee to the client. Missouri Breaks can work with most insurance plans, but there are that they cannot work with due to contractual agreements with other DME companies. They are often able to deliver without charging clients any additional delivery fees.

Missouri Breaks requires staff to regularly participate DME trainings. Additionally, representatives from supply companies provide trainings and keep them up to date on new products that become available. There are also national training programs that instruct clients on the proper use of equipment.

O’Leary would like residents of the area to know that they have an amazing and hardworking staff that truly cares about their clients. Let Missouri Breaks know if you need assistance getting DME supplies, and you can find out for yourself. 

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