- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 22, 2014

ROCHESTER, Minn. (AP) - In Minnesota’s “Med City,” wheelchairs are commonplace, and they sometimes end up abandoned in unusual places, such as parking ramps and downtown sidewalks.

That’s probably not surprising in a town where Mayo Clinic is king, but the real riddle is how they end up all over the city with no users in sight. The empty wheelchairs are simply a part of the landscape in the southeastern Minnesota city, Denny and Carol Scanlan, a Rochester couple, told Minnesota Public Radio News (https://bit.ly/1uEGNAe ).

“I never even thought of it until just now,” Denny Scanlan said. “Well, I see them kind of everywhere we go, I guess - where you least expect them.”

“At the mall. In a restaurant … We’re so used to it that I don’t even notice it,” Carol Scanlan said.

Shelly Joseph, a local salon owner whose business is housed in a hotel, said she often sees wheelchairs in public stairwells.



Mayo Clinic is visited by thousands of patients each day. It has 1,180 wheelchairs and offers them mainly for patient transport.

The clinic loses up to 150 wheelchairs annually, according to General Services Manager Ralph Marquez, who oversees patient equipment. Since each chair costs about $550, that adds up quickly to $82,500 in lost equipment.

“Yes, it’s a financial burden to us from that standpoint, but it’s also a service we provide,” Marquez said. “And if the patient, you know, truly comes first, sometimes that’s the expense of the business.”

Because Mayo doesn’t want to stop patients from taking wheelchairs from its campus, it relies on a courier service to collect them and bring them back to the clinic each week.

The wheelchairs often end up at hotels and the library, but they sometimes travel great distances, according to Marquez.

“We’ve gotten calls from Orlando Airport. Goodwill up in Duluth had one of our chairs and luckily we were able to retrieve that one. We’ve had them in Denver, out east in a few airports,” he said. “They get back to us dirty and needing to be cleaned. People may take them home for a while. They wind up everywhere.”

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Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, https://www.mprnews.org

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