If you know where to look, there is plenty of free medical equipment in, and around, San Francisco.
This article contains a list of organizations both private and state run, online websites with free equipment posted by private individuals near you, places to buy cheap used equipment, and instructions on how to apply where necessary.
In San Francisco, you can get free home medical equipment from –
- the Ability Tools Assistive Technology Program
- AT Exchange
- reuse, recycling and refurbishing centers, such as “Recares”, “ILR of Solano and Contra Costa Counties” or “The Marin Medical Equipment Recyclers”
- centers for independent living, such as the “Independent Living Resource Center, San Francisco”
- community medical equipment loan closets, such as “A Soldier’s Dove” or “NorCal SCI”
- Medicare, but not free
- the VA
- senior centers
You can also find free used medical equipment in San Francisco, using online platforms and social media sites such as –
CONTENTS - Overview & Quick Links
- free used medical equipment near me in San Francisco, on Craigslist.com
- free used medical equipment near me in San Francisco, on Freecycle.org
- free used medical equipment near me in San Francisco, on UsedHME.com
- free used medical equipment near me in San Francisco, on Facebook.com
- free used medical equipment near me in San Francisco, on Nextdoor.com
- free used medical equipment near me in San Francisco, on OfferUp.com
- Area Agencies on Aging
- Department of Social Service
- Lions Clubs
- Rotary Clubs
- Catholic Charities of San Francisco
- Society of St. Vincent de Paul
- Lutheran Services of San Francisco
- The Jewish Family Service of San Francisco
- Your local church or faith Groups
Free medical equipment from Ability Tools, the State Assistive Technology Program
“ABILITY TOOLS” the California State Assistive Technology Program is responsible for developing access for the community to “assistive technology devices”.
Home medical equipment can be considered to be assistive technology devices, as they are devices which help you to accomplish tasks of daily living, which you otherwise could not accomplish such as walkers, wheelchairs, canes, living aids etc.
The California Assistive Technology Reuse Coalition, is contracted by Ability Tools to help it achieve a large part of its work.
The CATRC – is a coalition of “Reuse Programs”.
CATRC coalition members collect and refurbish used medical equipment, which, with Ability Tools, they then redistribute to individuals in need.
“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.
ABILITY TOOLS offers to those in need –
- free short term loans home medical equipment
- free long short term loans of home medical equipment
- lend home medical equipment indefinitely for free
Just as a footnote, you can also purchase, at a great reduced price, refurbished durable medical equipment, if you do not qualify for free equipment.
The Ability Tools AT Exchange
Ability Tools has an online Assistive Technology Exchange.
The participating CATRC members, post their inventories of the refurbished used medical equipment on the AT Exchange, so that everyone can see what is available – the different reuse centers and the general public.
Anyone can take a look at what is posted on the AT Exchange.
The Assistive Technology Exchange is here – http://abilitytools.org/services/at-exchange-transition.php
I have an illustrated article with instructions on how to use the AT Exchange included, “Free Medical Equipment In California: How And Where To Get It”.
Free medical equipment from the California Assistive Technology Reuse Coalition
The CATRC website is here.
To find out if you qualify for free, or low cost durable medical equipment on a loan or a permanent basis, just contact the CATRC center in your area.
Below, I have listed the CATRC Reuse Center for San Francisco.
ReCares (formerly Home Cares)
ReCares collects “gently” used medical equipment.
ReCares has equipment such as –
- adult briefs
- shower chairs
- tub/transfer benches
- chux (disposable underpads)
The main ReCares center addresst –
Oakland, CA 94612
Phone: 510 251 2273
Give them a call to find out how you qualify for free equipment.
The website situation extremely confusing, as there is one website called “homecares.org” (their previous name), and a new one called “recares.net”, but the second is “under construction” and asks you to use the website with the old name !
They also have satellite offices –
The alleyway of 63 Dorland St
Phone: 415 487 5405
Marin Medical Equipment Recyclers
3100 Kerner Blvd
Phone: 415 388 8198
The Marin Medical Equipment Recyclers site offers –
- companion chairs
- transfer benches
- shower chairs
- orthopedic supports
- blood pressure machines
- wedge pillows
- therapeutic cushions
Ability Tools Device Lending and Demo Center for San Francisco
Ability Tools operates a Device Lending and Demonstration Center in San Francisco.
The center provides “short term loans” (up to 30 days) of assistive technology devices.
The Device Lending and Demonstration Center in San Francisco is –
Independent Living Resource Center San Francisco (ILRCSF)
825 Howard St, Street Level,
San Francisco, CA 94103
Phone: 415 543 6222
Centers for Independent Living (CILS) In San Francisco
Centers for Independent Living, or CIL’s, provide the support and services required by people with disabilities so that they may live independently in the community.
CIL’s maintain free medical equipment loan closets for their members.
If you are disabled, you can become a member of a CIL, and gain access to their support and services.
There is one CIL in San Francisco, I have listed it below.
Independent Living Resource Center San Francisco (ILRCSF)
825 Howard St, Street Level,
San Francisco, CA 94103
Phone: 415 543 6222
If you are looking for other CIL’s in the Bay Area, you can find them all here –
Free medical equipment loan closets in San Francisco
Loan closets are very often hidden away in their communities, and a resource that not too many people are aware of.
I have only been able to find 2 in San Francisco, but there are doubtless many more, which is why I will keep pointing out places you should be asking about them, throughout this article.
Here are the two that I have been able to find so far.
A Soldier’s Dove
An SF Bay Area nonprofit organization which gifts sanitized, and repaired, gently used medical equipment to non and under-insured individuals in need.
A Soldier’s Dove gifts items such as –
- bedside commodes
- shower chairs
- wheelchair cushions
- quad canes
- other bathroom safety equipment
To find out if you are eligible for their help, you can use the contact info below –
You can also email at – firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone: 650 590 9111
NorCal SCI (Northern California Spinal Injury)
Here you will find used medical equipment such as –
- power wheelchairs (no older than 3 yrs)
- manual wheelchairs
NorCal SCI has an online gallery of free equipment where they post donated equipment here.
Equipment is given to individuals who have made a request for particular items, and are in need.
To request equipment, you go to this website page here.
You can contact NorCal SCI by email – email@example.com .
Phone: 408 458 9863
Senior Centers in the San Francisco area
Senior Centers often have a member’s only free medical equipment loan closet.
Even so, Senior Centers and their members will be a mine of information about what is available in the community.
I would check with Senior Centers nearest to you, and find out if there are any free community medical equipment loan closets in the area that they are aware of.
Veteran Centers in the San Francisco area and Bay area
If you don’t know your entitlements as a veteran, here are the Veteran Centers in San Francisco
The Veteran Centers may know of, or have members who know of, community medical equipment loan closets with free equipment in your area.
Free medical equipment online near me in San Francisco
Finding free home medical equipment online, near you in San Francisco, is pretty quick and easy, I have even seen a person offering a free hospital bed in working condition on Facebook.
That said, you do have to be careful about who you are dealing with, and to check the equipment thoroughly before using it.
Before I dive into the individual sites and their differences, there are several points to be made about using online listings, and picking up free items –
1) If you look after an elderly, vulnerable person, it’s not a great idea to have strangers dropping off items at your home.
Arrange to pick items up at coffee shops, malls, or other public spaces.
2) Have another person go along with you to collect the free equipment, if you feel you may be at all vulnerable.
3) Spam – don’t use your main personal email on listing sites, as your email can get inundated with spam emails by spambots who browse sites looking for email addresses to hit. So just create a new email for answering advertisement listings.
4) Scammers – people will offer items for free, using it as a pretext to attempt to add on all kinds of charges, so do be aware of that.
You can easily find free home medical equipment on the following sites –
- Facebook Marketplace
Free used medical equipment near me in San Francisco, on Craigslist
On Craigslist, you can post local advertisements, and search for items in your area of San Francisco.
They even have a category “free stuff” to make our lives easier ! And when you search in “free stuff”, you can enter the type of equipment you are looking for into the search bar, and get quick results.
It’s available on all devices, and there is no membership required.
To see how to do a local search for free equipment, here my quick illustrated article – “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 Francisco, on FreeCycle.org
On Freecycle people join a group, or groups in their area, giving them access to all the items being gifted in those groups – there is no buying or selling, everything is given away for free.
It is as local as your nearest group in San Francisco.
A person can join as many groups as will accept them (usually all the groups they ask to join), and it is all free.
There is also no need to wait for an item to be offered in the group, as you can request items within the groups of which you are a member. So the more groups you join, the greater your chances of finding what you are looking for.
Here’s my quick illustrated article on how to find free used home medical equipment near you on Freecycle.org if you want to learn more – “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 Francisco, on usedHME.com
UsedHME stands for – Used Home Medical Equipment, as this is a website exclusively for advertisements selling, buying and donating used home medical equipment.
A great deal of the stuff advertised is free, making it a very easy site to search on, as you won’t have to wade your way through tons of irrelevant stuff.
You won’t need a membership, and it is all free
You can do searches for free equipment in your zip code in San Francisco, or further afield.
Here’s 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 Francisco, on Facebook
You are going to have to get a Facebook account to find any free equipment near to you in San Francisco on Facebook, but it is free and easy to do.
As soon as you have an account/membership, you can search free items in your area, or further afield –
- on buying and selling groups
- on the Facebook Marketplace
Facebook has search settings which will make it very easy to do local searches.
Here’s my quick illustrated guide on how to do find free durable medical equipment near you in San Francisco – “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 Francisco, on Nextdoor.com
In San Francisco, you will also find free items are offered on the social media platform Nextdoor.com.
The members in this case, though, are your neighbors in your area of San Francisco, so all the free stuff is in your neighborhood.
It is available on desktop and mobile – just download the app for mobile.
Here’s my illustrated guide on how to use Nextdoor.com to find free durable medical equipment near to you – “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 Francisco, on OfferUp
OfferUp is an app which is dedicated to off-loading items you don’t use, and passing them on to others.
It is a “mobile first” platform, it is available on desktop as well, just go to the website OfferUpcom.
It is free to join and use OfferUp.
For mobile, you download the app, and you are ready to go straight away.
You use the settings to look in for items in your area of San Francisco, by restricting the searches to pick-ups only.
The video below, on using OfferUp, explains everything perfectly. Just watch the video !
Getting free medical equipment with Medicaid in California
Medi-Cal is California’s state Medicaid program, and its lead agency is The Department of Health Care Services, which you can find – here.
It gives medical coverage to the individuals and families with the lowest incomes.
Coverage it provides can be free, but is also low-cost health coverage for some.
Medi-Cal does cover physical and occupational therapy and “devices” i.e. durable medical equipment, as one of its “essential health benefits”.
A person is covered if the medical equipment –
- they require is “medically necessary”
- is prescribed by a licensed medical practitioner
- satisfies their medical needs
The types of durable medical equipment covered by Medi-Cal include –
- grab bars
- hospital beds
- oxygen therapy equipment
- augmentative communication devices
To find out more, take a look at “Obtaining Assistive Technology through Medi-Cal” here.
Another informative article is “An Advocate’s guide to Medi-Cal Service”, January 2020, here.
Medi-Cal Programs specifically targeting the elderly and the disabled
Medi-Cal has programs targeting the elderly and the disabled called Medic-Cal waivers, which are also known as HCBS (Home and Community Based Services) programs or waivers.
On these programs or waivers, if Durable Medical Equipment or Assistive Devices are prescribed as “medically necessary” by the beneficiary’s medical provider, it is very often covered 100%.
The goal of these waivers is to enable the beneficiary to maintain their independence living at home, rather than being moved into a long term nursing facility.
The programs operate a limited number of places, and if a program is full, there will be a waiting list.
The Medi-Cal waivers are –
Home and Community-Based Alternatives Waiver – read it here.
Self-Determination Program – read it here.
The Multipurpose Senior Services Program (MSSP) Waiver – read about this here.
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 ?
In certain situations, Medicare Part B gives insurance coverage to home medical equipment, or as it is termed, durable medical equipment, but it is not at all free.
That said, in some cases you can make large savings with Medicare Part B coverage, if you qualify.
I have written an article outlining the rules, with examples of scenarios for differently priced pieces of equipment, so that you may see when it is worth using your Medicare Part B insurance to pay for home medical equipment.
That article is here, “Can You Get Free Medical Equipment With Medicare ?”
Where to ask about free medical equipment in your neighborhood in San Francisco
The following organizations all work with the elderly, the homeless and families in need in San Francisco, and have a wealth of knowledge due to all the services they run. I would go and talk with each one, to find out if they have any information about where I can get free home medical equipment –
- The local Area Agency on Aging
- Social Services in San Francisco
- Lions Clubs
- Rotary Clubs
- The Catholic Charities of San Francisco
- Society of St. Vincent de Paul, San Francisco
- The Jewish Family and Children’s Service of San Francisco
- Lutheran Social Services Of Northern California (San Francisco County)
- Your local church communities
Area Agency on Aging in San Francisco
The agencies for San Francisco are –
San Francisco Department of Disability and Aging Services
875 Stevenson St #3,
Phone: 415 355 3555
San Mateo County Area Agency on Aging
225 37th Ave,
Phone: 650 573 3900
The website – https://www.smchealth.org/services-aging-and-adult
If you find a club near you, you can ask if they know of a loan closet for free medical equipment.
I have a quick illustrated guide outlining how to find a Lions Club near you, which you can read here.
The same applies for Rotary clubs, as applies to the Lions, so I would give a club near you a call and find out if any clubs have a medical equipment loan closet, or any other initiatives lending or donating free medical equipment to those in need.
The Rotary club locator tool will help you find a club near you.
I have another quick, illustrated guide on how to locate a Rotary Club near you, that you can read here – it’s a very quick and easy read.
The Catholic Charities of San Francisco
The Catholic Charities of San Francisco covers 3 areas –
- San Francisco
- San Mateo
1555 39th Ave,
Phone: 415 972 1200
The Catholic Charities of San Francisco’s website is here – https://www.catholiccharitiessf.org/
Society of St. Vincent de Paul, San Francisco
If their thrift stores don’t have what you are looking for, they may be able to tell you who does.
1175 Howard St
Phone: 415 977 1270
Website – https://svdp-sf.org/
The Jewish Family and Children’s Services of San Francisco
Jewish Family and Children’s Services of San Francisco
The Miriam Schultz Grunfeld Professional Building
2150 Post Street
San Francisco, CA 94115
Phone: 415 449 1200
Lutheran Social Services
Lutheran Social Services of Northern California (San Francisco County Offices)
191 Golden Gate Avenue,
San Francisco, CA 94102
Phone: 415 581 0891
Website – https://www.lsssc.org/
Your local church or faith groups
Churches in your neighborhood, and the communities they have built up around them, are going to be a great place to ask about any free loan closets, as they very often run different initiatives themselves –
- food banks
- clothes loan closets
- medical equipment loan closets
You will need to get out and to speak with people, as it isn’t all on the internet.
Where to get cheaper medical equipment in San Francisco ?
So, if you haven’t found anywhere to get free medical equipment, the financially your next best option may be to buy some gently used equipment.
It is obviously going to be cheaper than new equipment, but the equipment it is going to require a thorough safety check.
Refurbishing centers will typically run safety checks on used home medical equipment, and then fix it up if needs be, but a thrift shop probably won’t do anything at all. They will sell the items “as is”.
Do check whether any equipment you want to buy has been sanitized, checked for safety and if they guarantee it at all, if you buy from a thrift store.
Cheap used medical equipment at Goodwill Stores in the San Francisco
All items in Goodwill stores are sold “as is”, and the Goodwill stores don’t accept any liability for breaks, or the consequences of that.
Goodwill stores only accept items if they are clean and gently used, but they don’t do any work, or sanitizing, before the items are put on sale, so you need to inspect their condition thoroughly.
Not all Goodwill stores accept home medical equipment, so it’s a good idea to call the stores in your area before you waste your time for no reason.
Goodwill stores in San Francisco
Goodwill has 13 stores across San Francisco
To locate a store near you in San Francisco, use their locator tool here.
Cheaper used medical equipment in San Francisco at Salvation Army stores
Not all Salvation Army stores sell used home medical equipment, so when you have found one near you, you may want to give them a call to check that they do.
The Salvation Army doesn’t repair, or clean, items that it accepts for sale. So, once more, remember to really examine closely any home medical equipment that you buy from them.
The store locator tool is here – https://satruck.org/ThriftStore
Cheap used medical equipment in thrift stores in San Francisco
Remember to check the equipment for any cracks, faulty joints etc., so you don’t buy any defective equipment.
I have an article buying used medical equipment here – The Ultimate Guide To Used Medical Equipment In California
Little Shop of Hoarders SF
Here you can find –
2610 Bayshore Blvd,
Phone: 415 797 8402
Funky secondhand shop features a vast selection of used furniture, vintage housewares & knickknacks.
The thrift store seems to sell everything under the sun, piled up to the ceiling – including walkers and crutches.
952 Howard St,
Phone: 415 543 6833
Pick Of The litter Thrift Shop
The shop is run by the Peninsula Humane Society and SPCA.
Call to check that they are taking durable medical equipment at the time of your search, as it can change.
The website page for the shop is here – https://phs-spca.org/pick/
1127 Chula Vista Ave,
Phone: 650 344 1662
Society Of St. Vincent De Paul
The society has 3 thrift stores in the San Francisco area, where you can find medical equipment such as –
- quad canes
South San Francisco
344 Grand Ave
South San Francisco, CA 94080
Phone: 650 589 8445
40 North B St,
San Mateo, CA94401
Phone: 650 294 8912
728A Willow Rd,
Menlo Park, CA 94025
In the East Bay Area in Contra Costa County, there are another 3 stores, where you will find the following used medical equipment for sale –
- quad canes
2210 Gladstone Drive,
Phone: 925 439 9064
Brentwood Help and Hope thrift Center
8890 Brentwood Blvd,
Brentwood, CA 94513
Phone: 925 635 3214
2815 Contra Costas Blvd,
Pleasant Hill, CA 94523
Phone: 925 934 5063
There are many options here, and hopefully you will find something that will help you out.
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.