No Skeletons, Just Angels in VNA Health’s Loan Closet

By Steven Libowitz   |   October 20, 2022
After a snowboarding injury, Sky used VNA’s Loan Closet to source the medical equipment needed

As five-year-old Sky finished a run down from the top of Mammoth Mountain on a recent December morning, an adult snowboarder unexpectedly crashed into him leaving the youngster unable to stand. An X-ray at the local Emergency Room indicated that he had a spiral fracture in his tibia and would need a cast to immobilize and support the leg. 

As Sky would also need to limit weight-bearing activities on his injured leg, the doctor told Sky’s family he’d need to use a pediatric wheelchair or walker as well as crutches to get around, and asked if she knew how to get the equipment.

“Why yes,” replied Sky’s mom, Mara. “We have the Loan Closet at home in Santa Barbara.”

The Loan Closet, operated by VNA Health since the nonprofit’s founding, was able to provide Sky the equipment he needed to sustain his fearless independence and heal properly so that less than two months later, the youngster was able to rock climb up the face of Fire Crags off of Painted Cave Road hundreds of feet above the ground. 

The founders of VNA Health recognized the need to support community members with basic medical supply challenges and from the beginning established the Loan Closet in 1908. Later in 1948, with the help of Thomas M. Storke, then editor and publisher of the Santa Barbara News-Press, VNA Health expanded the Loan Closet to provide free short-term loans of durable medical equipment for community residents. More than a century later, the Loan Closet continues to care for generations of families, aiding in their recovery, recuperation, and readjustment to injuries, illness, and more. 

“Our founders built VNA Health and the Loan Closet for the good of the community,” shared Kieran Shah, VNA Health President & CEO. “Starting and sustaining the Loan Closet was not only out of compassion for those in need; it was foresight into ensuring the overall health and well-being of the whole community for generations.”

VNA Health Loan Closet is still the only community resource in Santa Barbara County offering free loans of basic medical equipment, such as wheelchairs, crutches, knee scooters, walkers, shower seats, and more. Getting helped by the facility’s warm and welcoming team comes as a great relief to those who otherwise might have had to navigate our healthcare system that can be incredibly complex and frustrating as well as expensive.

Less than two months after his injury, Sky is back at it…

As a free community service, the Loan Closet is open for anyone residing in Santa Barbara County and regularly serves more than 4,000 clients each year. There is no fee for borrowing equipment, whether it’s for a few weeks or for an extended period of time. Those in need are advised to inquire about availability of equipment – whether a wheelchair, walker, crutches, shower bench, or other assistive device – by calling the Loan Closet at (805) 690-6235 or emailing before completing the required Loan Closet Equipment Loan Form available online.

The invaluable resource is completely supported through private donations and contributions – often from people who have benefited from the Loan Closet, although VNA Health also depends on support from its friends, family, and neighbors.

“Our communities have supported the Loan Closet for more than a century,” stated Lailan McGrath, Director of the VNA Health Foundation. “By making a donation today, you can help us continue the Loan Closet legacy to ensure it is available to support every generation of the next family in need.”

While monetary support is the easiest and most efficient way to support the Loan Closet, the VNA Health facility also accepts donated medical equipment that is no longer needed by its owner. Most small medical equipment is accepted, as long as it is in good condition. 

The Loan Closet is located at VNA Health’s corporate offices in Downtown Santa Barbara, and is open by appointment only from 8 am to 4 pm, Monday-Friday. Enter the Loan Closet from the VNA Health parking lot located at 360 Olive Street between E. Montecito Street and E. Gutierrez Street. 

The Loan Closet is just one of an array of services provided by VNA Health, California’s third oldest Visiting Nurse Association and one of the area’s leading nonprofit providers of comprehensive in-home healthcare with the goal of helping patients, and their families, live well at home, wherever they reside. VNA Health’s expert healthcare team works closely with its patients and their physicians to coordinate services and develop a plan of care specific to the individual’s needs. From learning to manage a chronic disease, transitioning from hospital to home, recovering from an injury or surgery, or facing end of life, VNA Health can be a professional partner to ensure the patients receive the level of care necessary to live safely at home.

VNA Health’s programs include: Home Health Care (Skilled Nursing, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, and Chronic Disease Management), Palliative Care (relief from pain, symptoms, and stress of a serious illness), Hospice Care (At-Home Hospice, In-patient Hospice at Serenity House and Respite Care), Bereavement Care (Coping with Loss, Anticipatory Grief, and Support Groups). 

VNA Health is accredited and has received The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval in Home Health Care, Palliative Care, and Hospice Care. The physicians in Hospice and Palliative Care are board certified. VNA Health is proud to have 4 out of 5 Stars from CMS for its Quality Patient Care Rating and Patient Satisfaction Rating, and to be a We Honor Veterans 4-Star Level Partner.  

VNA Health
(805) 690-6218
Lailan McGrath, Director of the VNA Health Foundation


VNA Health — Serenity House

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(805) 690-6218
Director of the Foundation: Lailan McGrath


Caring for our community with compassion and integrity.

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The memories of Serenity House are not sad ones, they’re really wonderful, sweet, and treasured. I think once going there … it was like the perfect place for us. When we were at Serenity House, I asked Kevin, ‘Could we have done anything differently?’ He just wrote, ‘No regrets.’ We were able to have closure …so that’s pretty special.
Angel Speier

For the Good of the Community There Will be a Loan Closet

Founded in 1908, “for the good of the community and out of compassion for the less fortunate,” the VNA Health founders planned that “there will be a Loan Closet” to provide bed linens, night clothes, and other nursing supplies. In 1948, Thomas M. Storke, then editor and publisher of the Santa Barbara News-Press, helped expand the Loan Closet to provide short-term loans of durable medical equipment.

Today, the VNA Health Loan Closet is the only community resource in Santa Barbara County offering free loans of basic medical equipment, such as wheelchairs, crutches, knee scooters, walkers, and shower seats to community residents.

The VNA Health Loan Closet serves more than 4,000 clients each year and is completely supported through private donations and contributions. VNA Health depends on its friends, family, and neighbors. Please join us today by making a donation to continue the Loan Closet legacy and to ensure it is available to support every generation of the next family in need.

Key Supporters

Board of Directors
Mark Mattingly, Chair
Ken Kraus, Vice Chair
Karen Handy, Secretary
Kieran Shah, CHPCA, President & CEO
Michael Bordofsky, MD
Laura Canfield, DNP, RN, CNS,
Alex W. Craigie, Esq.
Eusebio Cordova, Jr.
Pamela Dillman Haskell
Paul Jaconette, MPH
Frederic C. Kass, MD
Neil Levinson, Esq.
Ben Phillips
Suzi Schomer
Christopher Thrash, MD
Directors Emeriti
Ed Brady
Stan Fishman
Herb Geary, RN
Jane Habermann
Christopher Jones, Esq.
Steve Lew
Michelle Martinich, CPA
Chris McNamara
Judy Murphy
Elna Scheinfeld
James Stovesand
Ted Thoreson, MD