If you are looking for free home medical equipment in San Diego, I have put together a long list of places to look, along with instructions on how to apply where necessary.
This includes physical places, and how to find free equipment in your neighborhood, online.
So, let’s jump on in !
You can get free medical equipment in San Diego from –
- the Ability Tools Assistive Technology Program
- AT Exchange
- reuse, recycling and refurbishing centers
- loan or lending closets
- independent living centers
- free equipment listings online
- Medicare, but not free
- the VA
- cheap from Goodwill stores
- cheap from Salvation Army stores
- cheap with other thrift stores
CONTENTS - Overview & Quick Links
- free used medical equipment near me in San Diego, on Craigslist.com
- free used medical equipment near me in San Diego, on Freecycle.org
- free used medical equipment near me in San Diego, on UsedHME.com
- free used medical equipment near me in San Diego, on Facebook.com
- free used medical equipment near me in San Diego, on Nextdoor.com
- free used medical equipment near me in San Diego, on OfferUp.com
- Area Agencies on Aging
- Department of Social Service
- Lions Clubs
- Rotary Clubs
- Catholic Charities of San Diego
- Society of St. Vincent de Paul
- Lutheran Services of San Diego
- The Jewish Family Service of San Diego
- Presbyterian Urban Ministries, San Diego
- Your local church or faith Groups
Free medical equipment from Ability Tools, the State Assistive Technology Program
In the state of California, the program responsible for developing access for the community to “assistive technology devices” is the California Assistive Technology Program “ABILITY TOOLS”.
Ability Tools accomplishes a great deal of its work with the help of a coalition of “Reuse Programs” called the CATRC – The California Assistive Technology Reuse Coalition.
These Centers/Programs are spread throughout California.
The coalition members collect and refurbish used medical equipment, and to then help to re-allocate it to those in need.
ABILITY TOOLS through the CATRC is able to offer to those in need –
- free short term loans of new and used home medical equipment
- free long short term loans of new and used home medical equipment
- lend new or used medical equipment indefinitely for free
- the opportunity to those who don’t qualify for free equipment, to purchase refurbished home medical equipment at a very low cost
The system is based on the principal that the home medical equipment is loaned to those with the greatest need first.
The Ability Tools AT Exchange
Ability Tools has an Assistive Technology Exchange online.
Participating CATRC organizations post their inventories of used medical equipment and AT devices available, so everyone can see what is available. The public can view it as well.
The Assistive Technology Exchange website is here – http://abilitytools.org/services/at-exchange-transition.php
“The reuse programs accept donations of assistive technology devices and medical equipment, repair, and sanitize them, and then offer them to people with disabilities for free, or at low cost.” – Source here.
If you want instructions on how to use the AT Exchange, go to my article “Free Medical Equipment In California: How And Where To Get It”, and you will find a section on how to use the Ability Tools AT Exchange to see what equipment is available.
Free medical equipment from the California Assistive Technology Reuse Coalition
The CATRC website is here.
One way to find out if you are eligible for any free, or low cost durable medical equipment on a loan or a permanent basis, is to contact the CATRC member reuse center in your area.
There is not one in San Diego, unfortunately, but you can go and talk to the Ability Tools Device Lending and Demo Center – SD ATC San Diego Assistive Technology Center – which is listed below, and they will tell you how to proceed if you qualify for longer term equipment loans.
You will also see a little further along the United Cerebral Palsy of San Diego reuse program, which actually works with the SD ATC.
A bit confusing, I know, but it is all here in the article.
Ability Tools Device Lending and Demo Center for San Diego
Ability Tools operates a Device Lending and Demonstration Center program across the whole of California.
There are 12 agencies which have been contracted to provide “short term loans” of assistive technology devices, on loan for up to 30 days.
The Ability Tools website is here.
The Device Lending and Demonstration Center in San Diego is –
SDATC San Diego Assistive Technology Center
8665 Gibbs Dr, # 100
San Diego, CA 92123
Phone: 858 278 5420 x120
The San Diego Assistive Technology Center is available to individuals with disabilities and their families.
Independent medical equipment re-use programs in San Diego
Physical Therapy For All
The organization helps to provide free physical therapy through a huge network of physical therapists, and rehabilitation equipment, to those in need.
The organization also
“PTFORALL helps low-income individuals by funding their physical therapy visits and providing rehabilitation equipment, assistive devices (wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, braces, etc.) and healthcare related supplies. By recycling used rehabilitative equipment and assistive devices we are able to keep these items out of landfills. We are a 100% volunteer organization.”
The source of the text above is their Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/ptforall/
The equipment they provide includes –
31022 Via Mirador
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
Phone: 949 735 9955
Physical Therapy For All
4890 Renovo Way,
Their main website: https://www.ptforall.org
UCP of San Diego County
UCP – United Cerebral Palsy of San Diego – recycles durable medical equipment to those in need of this equipment for free.
This gets a little confusing, but the UCP of San Diego runs –
- a recycling program of used durable medical equipment
- a loan closet of durable medical equipment for adults and families in need for free
- a loan closet for children’s equipment for those with cerebral palsy
They recycle equipment for adults and families in need, such as –
- bath chairs
- gait trainers
The website page for the recycled equipment for families and adults in need is here: https://www.ucpsd.org/equipment/
The phone for those with equipment needs is – (858) 571 7803 ext. 115
Centers for Independent Living (CILS) In San Diego
Centers for Independent Living, or CIL’s, support people with disabilities to live independently in the community.
CIL’s have medical equipment loan closets to supply equipment to their members who require it.
You of course have to be a disabled person, and to become a member of the CIL.
There are two CIL’s in San Diego County, which you can see below.
Free medical equipment loan closets in San Diego
Cecily’s Closet – San Diego
Cecily’s closet is partnered with The UCP organization of San Diego, mentioned above, to make equipment available to families who need it.
The equipment in this closet is just for children with special needs.
Once equipment has been donated, it is posted here –
The text below is taken verbatim from the Cecily’s closet website –
“Cecily’s Closet encourages parents to make donated equipment available to families in need directly through the Cecily’s Closet website. The process is simple:
1) Send us a picture and a description of your item to firstname.lastname@example.org or post directly to the Cecily’s Closet page on Facebook.
2) Cecily’s Closet will post the item to FaceBook.
3) Once we find an interested party we ask the interested party to pick it up directly from the donor. This enables us to scale and recycle more equipment! “
If you have a special needs child, and need equipment, you can just contact them through the Facebook page.
Ramona Food & Clothes Closet
Website page for the loan closet – https://www.foodandclothescloset.org/medical-equipment-loan-program/
The loan closet is part of a thrift store.
773 Main Street,
Ramona, CA 92065
Phone: 760 789 4458
The types of equipment that you can borrow for free –
- knee braces
- ankle braces
- wrist braces
- Post-Op shoes
- compression socks
- neck braces
- back braces
- boot braces
- elbow braces
- shower chairs
- handicap toilets
Senior Centers in the San Diego area
Below is a list of the senior centers in the San Diego area, many will have their own free medical loan closets for their members, so you may just be able to join one which does.
And, even if there is no loan closet, given that these are day centers for seniors, they will have a lot of information, and the seniors themselves may well know of free community medical equipment loan closets in the area.
I would definitely make a few calls and see if you can’t find loan closets that way.
Cathy Hopper Clairemont Friendship Center
Norman Park Senior Center
Encinitas Senior Center
Park Avenue Community Center
Florence Riford Senior Center
Norman Park Senior Center
Rancho Santa Fe Senior Center
San Marcos Project Care
Gloria McClellan Senior Center
Free medical equipment for veterans
Different forms of insurance for veterans will cover durable medical equipment in certain conditions, but it is not free
- Tricare For life will cover the 20% coinsurance payment for Medicare Part B for treatment in a non-government facility (VA facilities are not Medicare-certified providers – Medicare can’t pay for care at a government facility)
- Tricare – covers most DME for use in the home, if it is prescribed by a doctor as “medically necessary”
- Veteran Directed Care Program (VDC), part of the VAH Standard Medical Benefits Package, serves to assist veterans in maintaining their independence in their own homes – the veterans will have a say in what durable medical equipment they can have in their home
- ChampVA for Life – for 65’s and over who are family members of veterans who died in the course of their duties, or who were permanently disabled – it covers the beneficiary’s Medicare co-pays and deductibles
Veteran Centers in San Diego
If you need any assistance with finding out about what you are entitled to as a veteran, here are the Veteran Centers in San Diego.
Free medical equipment online near me in San Diego
Nowadays, with the internet, it is much easier to find free home medical equipment in your local area, and in your case, in San Diego.
Before I tell you about the different options, I want you to be aware of a number of issues when using online listings, and picking up free items –
1) I would not tell strangers where you live, or have anyone drop off an item at your home, especially if you look after an elderly, vulnerable person.
Arrange to pick up items in places like coffee shops, malls, or other public spaces – you don’t know if the person has other motives.
2) Take someone else along with you to pick up the free equipment if you feel you are at all vulnerable
3) Spam can be a big issue on online listing sites, so get a new email for use on listing sites, and keep the spambots out of your main private email.
4) Scammers – there are quite a number of people who offer items for free, but who are using it as a way of starting a sales pitch – they may add other random costs in. So check the profile of the person, if the platform has this. Some platforms, as you will see, have ratings for the profile of people selling and gifting items.
You can find free home medical equipment on –
- Facebook Marketplace
Free used medical equipment near me in San Diego, on Craigslist
Craigslist is a huge online classified local listing service, on which you’ll be able to find lots of free items in your area of San Diego.
There is no membership, you just go onto the website, search the listings and contact the person with the listing that interests you.
You can use it on mobile or desktop – no apps involved.
Craigslist has a “free stuff” category.
If you want to learn about how to use it, I have a quick illustrated guide on searching for free used home medical equipment on Craigslist.com here – “How To Get Free Medical Equipment Near Me On Craigslist ? A Quick Illustrated Guide”
Screenshot of Craigslist listings page
Screenshot example of a Craigslist garage sale page
Free Used Medical Equipment near me in San Diego, on FreeCycle.org
Freecycle.org is another platform which has items being donating for free, and people all over San Diego are using it – there is no buying and selling, just the gifting of items.
Freecycle.org is made up of local groups of individuals gifting items for free to other members in the groups – the network is worldwide.
You join groups where you live, and you have access to all the items being gifted in those groups – you can join as many groups as you wish to, for free.
Members can also make a request for items within their groups.
To find out more, you can look at my quick illustrated article on how to find free used home medical equipment near you on Freecycle.org – “How To Get Free Medical Equipment Near Me On Freecycle.org ? A Quick Illustrated Guide”
Screenshot of Freecyle.org page
Used medical equipment for sale or free, near me in San Diego, on usedHME.com
Used Home Medical Equipment is a website of listings dedicated to used home medical equipment, and a lot of it is free, including in San Diego.
Anyone can use the listings for free, and you do not need to be a member.
The website is set up so that you can find offers of free equipment in your local area of San Diego, and anywhere else in the US.
To find out more, you can read my quick illustrated guide on how to get free used home medical equipment on UsedHME.com here – “How To Get Free Medical Equipment Near Me On UsedHME.com ? A Quick Illustrated Guide”
Free used medical equipment near me in San Diego, on Facebook
To find free medical equipment in San Diego on Facebook, you will need a Facebook account – it’s free.
With a Facebook account, you can get free items –
- from buying and selling groups
- from the Facebook Marketplace
Facebook has tools on the site, which will allow you to make a local search for free items.
To find out more, you can take a look at my quick illustrated guide on how to find free used home medical equipment on Facebook – “How To Get Free Medical Equipment Near Me On Facebook ? A Quick Illustrated Guide”
Screenshot of Facebook Marketplace page
Free used medical equipment near me in San Diego, on Nextdoor.com
Like Facebook, Nextdoor.com is a social media platform, but in this case the members are your neighbors in San Diego – everything you are looking at on Nextdoor.com is in your neighborhood, and some close neighborhoods if you are in a city.
For mobile, you have an app, and there is a website for desktop.
To find out how to use it to find free medical equipment in San Diego, you can find my illustrated guide, here – “How To Get Free Medical Equipment Near Me On Nextdoor.com ? A Quick Illustrated Guide”
Screenshot of Nextdoor.com “All Listings” page
Free used medical equipment near me in San Diego, on OfferUp
OfferUp is a “mobile first” platform, where you can find free items in San Diego – it is also available on desktop.
On OfferUp have ratings to show their trustworthiness, so pay attention to that, and be wary of people who have no profile photo etc.
OfferUp is free to join and use.
For mobile, you will need to download the app.
You can set the app to just look in your area, by limiting the searches to pick-ups only.
There is a video on using OfferUp, which explains everything perfectly. Just watch the video !
Getting free medical equipment with Medicaid in California
Medi-Cal is the California state Medicaid program, which provide medical coverage to individuals and families with the lowest incomes.
For many, coverage is free, and for others it may be low-cost health coverage.
The Department of Health Care Services is the lead agency for Medi-Cal – here.
With Medi-Cal you are covered for 10 “essential health benefits”, one of which is physical and occupational therapy and “devices” i.e. durable medical equipment.
You will be covered if –
- the equipment is “medically necessary”
- a licensed medical practitioner prescribes the equipment
- your medical needs are met by the equipment
The Medi-Cal program considers items such as wheelchairs, canes, crutches, grab bars, walkers, hospital beds oxygen therapy equipment, augmentative communication devices and more, to be durable medical equipment.
More about that in “Obtaining Assistive Technology through Medi-Cal” here.
And also in “An Advocate’s guide to Medi-Cal Service”, January 2020, here.
Medi-Cal Programs specifically targeting the elderly and the disabled
The Department of Health Care Services also has programs called Medi-Cal waivers.
Certain Medi-Cal waivers provide home and community based services and will often cover the purchase of Durable Medical Equipment or Assistive Devices, if prescribed as “medically necessary” by the beneficiary’s medical provider, for free.
These programs are also known as HCBS (Home and Community Based Services) programs or waivers.
The programs do have a limited number of places, so when the program is full, if a person is eligible they will be placed on a waiting list.
The Medi-Cal waivers are –
Home and Community-Based Alternatives Waiver – read more about this here.
Self-Determination Program – read about this here.
The Multipurpose Senior Services Program (MSSP) Waiver – read about this here.
The waivers all allow for the purchase of equipment and devices which will lead to continued living in one’s own home.
The sources for this section on Medi-Cal are –
“Obtaining Assistive Technology Through Medi-Cal” – https://www.disabilityrightsca.org/system/files/file-attachments/558301.pdf
“Medi-Cal waivers – https://www.dhcs.ca.gov/services/Pages/Medi-CalWaivers.aspx
The California Department of Health Care Services” – https://www.dhcs.ca.gov/
Can you get free home medical equipment with Medicare ?
I am not referring here to medical equipment you will use in a hospital or a nursing facility, that is all covered under Medicare Part A, but to equipment you use in your home, such as a walker, wheelchair or patient lift.
These are, with certain stipulations, covered by Medicare Part B will, and are referred to as durable medical equipment.
But this durable medical equipment is not at all free.
That said, there are situations where you can save a huge amount if you use your Medicare Part B coverage.
To find out how much you can save, I have written another article with all the rules, and examples of different scenarios with differently priced pieces of equipment.
You can find that article here, “Can You Get Free Medical Equipment With Medicare ?”
Where to ask about free medical equipment in your neighborhood in San Diego
If you are not having any luck uncovering free medical equipment, you should talk to some of these groups in your neighborhood (if they are present, of course) –
- Your local Area Agency on Aging in San Diego – Aging and Independence Services
- San Diego County Social Services
- Lions Clubs
- Rotary Clubs
- Catholic Charities Diocese of San Diego
- Society of St. Vincent de Paul, San Diego
- Lutheran Social Services – Southern California
- The Jewish Family service of San Diego
- Presbyterian Urban Ministries – San Diego
- Local church communities
Area Agencies on Aging
Area Agencies on Aging provide support to the elderly and their caregivers, to help them to remain independent.
Your local agency should be aware of programs such as community medical equipment loan closets, and any other opportunities there are for you to find free medical equipment.
Aging and Independence Services is the area agency on aging in San Diego.
The website is for them is here – https://www.sandiegocounty.gov/content/sdc/hhsa/programs/ais/Services.html
I would give them a call and ask if they know of any loan closets in your area, or of refurbishing centers who gift used medical equipment to those in need.
The Lions run are involved in many charitable programs, and some clubs run community loan closets for home medical equipment.
If you find a club near you, you can ask if they have a loan closet for free medical equipment, or know of one in your area who have one.
I have written a quick illustrated guide explaining how to find a Lions Club near you, which you can read here.
The Rotary organization, is another organization which does a huge amount of charity work.
A club near you may know of clubs, or others, in your area that have free loan closets for medical equipment.
You can use the Rotary club locator tool to do this.
Here is my illustrated guide on how to locate a Rotary Club near you, that you can read here – it’s a very quick and easy read.
Catholic Charities Diocese of San Diego
The Catholic Charities Diocese of San Diego may be able to give you information of groups with loan closets of used home medical equipment in the San Diego area.
You can contact them through their website here – https://ccdsd.org/
Society of St. Vincent de Paul, San Diego
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul, San Diego is another charitable organization which offers many services to those in need in San Diego, and has many people working in the different communities, and should be well aware of the different loan closets etc.
I wouldn’t hesitate to get in touch and just ask if they know of any loan closets where you live.
You can find out more information on their website here – https://svdp-sandiego.org/
Lutheran Social Services – Southern California
Lutheran Social Services are another organization running multiple programs helping those in need.
Again, I wouldn’t hesitate to call them and ask if they are aware of any organizations who supply free medical equipment to people in need, or loan closets that are active in your area.
Their website is here – https://www.lsssc.org/
Lutheran Social Services of Southern California
999 Town and Country Road, Ste 100
Orange, CA 92868
Phone: 714 685 1800
The Jewish Family Service of San Diego
The Jewish Family Service of San Diego is another large charitable organization which has many programs, and will be a mine of information.
Their website is here – https://www.jfssd.org/
I would give them a call and ask if they are aware of any loan closets and organizations with free medical equipment in your area of San Diego.
Phone: 858 637 3210
Jewish Family Service of San Diego
Joan and Irwin Jacobs Campus
Turk Family Center,
8804 Balboa Ave,
Sand Diego, CA 92123
Presbyterian Urban Ministries – San Diego
The Presbyterian Urban Ministries San Diego is another organization with programs for low income families and individuals, which may also know of groups and loan closets for free durable medical equipment.
This is their Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/www.pumsd.org/
You can call them at – 619 232 2753
Your local church or faith groups
Information about charitable programs and activities should be easy enough to get from your local churches, and the communities that they have built up around them –
- food banks
- clothes loan closets
- medical equipment loan closets
I have found many, many churches in the US also have their own independent community loan closets offering DME loans for free in their local community.
But you will need to speak to people, as it isn’t all out there on the internet.
Where to get cheaper medical equipment in San Diego ?
If you aren’t able to find free medical equipment, the following section outlines where to get “cheaper” medical equipment.
The equipment won’t be new, it will be cheaper than new equipment, but it will need to be properly checked for safety.
Refurbishing centers tend to run safety checks, and fix anything that is needed, but your standard thrift shop probably doesn’t.
So, when you buy from a thrift store, do ask if the item has been checked or not, if any work was done on it, and if there is any guarantee as to the safety of the item.
Cheaper used medical equipment at Goodwill Stores in the San Diego Area
Not all Goodwill stores sell used medical equipment, but a quite a lot of them do.
There are around 30 stores in San Diego County.
You can use Goodwill on the SD Goodwill website locator can be used to find a store in your area, which you will find here –
Cheaper used medical equipment in San Diego at Salvation Army stores
Salvation Army stores often sell used medical equipment – but not all stores.
To find a Salvation Army store near you, go to the website page to find the store locator tool – https://satruck.org/ThriftStore
Cheaper used medical equipment in thrift stores in San Diego
Be warned, that there is no guarantee of the quality when you buy used medical equipment.
In general, thrift store do not accept any liabilities if items break during use, but you can always check.
I have an article with the thrift stores selling used medical equipment here – The Ultimate Guide To Used Medical Equipment In California
Amvets Thrift Stores
Amvets thrift stores raise money through the sales of donated equipment to veterans, veterans’ families and communities in California.
The store sometimes has some larger items of DME for sale –
- adjustable/hospital bed
- bedside commode
- patient lift
They have a Facebook page –
Amvets Thrift Store
999 Cardiff St,
San Diego, CA 92114
Phone: 619 651 1650
Team Amvets Thrift Store
3441 Sutherland St #2031,
San Diego, CA 92110
Phone: 619 297 4213
DAV Thrift Stores
D.A.V. is a nonprofit organization which runs 4 thrift stores selling items to help support disabled American veterans.
D.A.V. has used medical equipment for sale, such as –
- shower chairs
- hospital beds
- transport bench
Phone: 800 894 2486
1049 Elkelton Blvd,
Spring Valley, CA 91977
L Street & Broadway E of I-5 881 Broadway,
Chula Vista, CA 91911
1130 E Main St,
El Cajon, CA 92021
Cassidy Street West of I-5 1624,
South Coast Hwy,
Oceanside, CA 92054
Deseret Industries Thrift Store
Deseret Industries thrift stores sell “gently used” home medical equipment.
Chula Vista, CA 991911
Phone: 619 423 2317
Father Joe’s Villages
There is no indication of what types of equipment they have, so I would call first to see.
There are thrift 3 stores.
Imperial Beach –
Thrift Store and Donation Center
1555 Palm Ave, Suite F
San Diego, CA 92154
Phone: 619 651 8004
El Cajon –
Thrift Store and Donation Center
2325 Fletcher Parkway,
El Cajon, CA 92020
Phone: 619 465 5840
Thrift Store and Donation Center
1457 University Ave,
San Diego, CA 92103
Phone: 619 255 1255
Chula Vista –
Thrift Store and Donation Center
Chula Vista, CA 91910
Phone: 619 600 3778
Greater Christ Temple Apostolic Church International Ministries Thrift Store
You will need to call to find out what equipment they have, or just go in.
The website is here – https://www.christtemplesdchurch.org/home
309 Prescott Avenue,
Phone: 619 937 0197
I’m Gareth, the author and owner of Looking After Mom and Dad.com
I have been a caregiver for over 10 yrs and share all my tips here.