Conn. nonprofit meets disposable undergarment need

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BOZRAH, Conn. (AP) — A new venture in Bozrah is tackling an important medical issue that's rarely discussed outside the doctor's office.

Called Discreet Undergarment Banking Four You, or DUB4U, the nonprofit offers a way for adults who use disposable undergarments to get them consistently, reliably and anonymously, its founders say.

Known by brand names such as Depends, Sure Care, Prevail and Nu-Fit, the undergarments provide support for those dealing with incontinence.

DUB4U was started by Christine Baker, the owner of QC Home Care Solutions and director of the Bozrah senior center, and Sharon Gauthier, a registered nurse and founder of Patient Advocate for You. Both have extensive backgrounds in health care.

According to the National Institutes of Health, 25 million older Americans experience some form of urinary incontinence. But it's not often discussed due to the personal nature of the problem.

"There's definitely a stigma in talking about it," Baker said.

Urinary incontinence is experienced by both men and women, whether from an injury, illness, disability or age. It's not just senior citizens, Baker said.

"It could be someone who's had surgery or become paralyzed," she said.

Insurance doesn't cover the cost of disposable undergarments, she said. The adult absorbent products can cost upward of $100 a month, making it difficult for those on fixed incomes to be adequately supplied.

"These are not luxury items — they're a necessity," Baker said.

Without them, many healthy older people stay home, fearful of joining social functions such as family birthday parties, visits with neighbors or trips to the library, she said.

DUB4U hopes to change that with its new service, which launched in the fall.

The bank operates out of the Bozrah senior center, and has an office in another part of town, at 194 Fitchville Road. Monthly deliveries can be made using a van operated by QC Home Care Solutions.

The discreet part of the service is important to DUB4U.

Deliveries mailed to customers are contained in a plain brown paper wrapping, so there's no outward indication of the contents. Recipients are contacted in advance with a date and time if the undergarments are being delivered.

"Everything is confidential," Baker said.

DUB4U held a successful Stuff the Van drive Feb. 22 at Wal-Mart in Lisbon. The bank also is taking donations of adult briefs such as Depends, Poise or store brands. They've set up donation box areas at several locations.

"We've been reaching out to senior centers, social services agencies, shelters," said Melissa Joseph, a licensed practical nurse and quality assurance director at QC Home Care Solutions.

Word of the service was welcome news to Lee-Ann Gomes, Norwich Human Services social work supervisor.

"I don't know of anything else like it around our area," she said. "And there's a big need. We had a hygiene closet here that used to distribute supplies, but had to stop due to staff cuts."

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Information from: Norwich Bulletin, http://www.norwichbulletin.com

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