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Why Random Wheelchairs Keep Popping up in One Minnesota Town

"Where you least expect them."

In this Aug. 20, 2014 photo, an abandoned Mayo Clinic wheelchair sits at rest on the Cascade Creek walking trail near Kutzky Park in Rochester, Minn. In Minnesota's "Med City," wheelchairs are commonplace, and they sometimes end up abandoned in unusual places, such as parking ramps and downtown sidewalks. (AP Photo/Minnesota Public Radio, Elizabeth Baier) AP Photo/Minnesota Public Radio, Elizabeth Baier

An abandoned wheelchair here, an unused wheelchair there, in a Minnesota town this sight is apparently not unusual.

"I never even thought of it until just now," Denny Scanlan of Rochester told Minnesota Public Radio. "Well, I see them kind of everywhere we go, I guess — where you least expect them."

An abandoned Mayo Clinic wheelchair sits at rest on the Cascade Creek walking trail near Kutzky Park in Rochester, Minn. In Minnesota's "Med City," wheelchairs are commonplace, and they sometimes end up abandoned in unusual places, such as parking ramps and downtown sidewalks. (AP/Minnesota Public Radio, Elizabeth Baier)

According to MPR, Mayo Clinic has more than 1,000 wheelchairs and loses up to 150 each year for up to a $82,500 financial loss.

"Yes, it's a financial burden to us from that standpoint, but it's also a service we provide," Ralph Marquez, Mayo's general services manager, told MPR.  "And if the patient, you know, truly comes first, sometimes that's the expense of the business."

Why doesn't Mayo put those locking devices on the chairs like grocery stores that put them on carts to prevent them from leaving the parking lot is unclear, but MPR reported that patient-less chairs from around town are picked up weekly.

Some don't stick around town though.

"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," Marquez said. "They get back to us dirty and needing to be cleaned. People may take them home for a while. They wind up everywhere."

While the general public would probably find the sight of abandoned wheelchairs or even patients wheeling around IV bags somewhat odd, in Rochester, it's relatively normal.

"It's just part of living in Rochester,"John Hunziker with the local library said, according to NPR.

Read MPR full post on the town's quirky landscape accessory, including a photo gallery of abandoned chairs, on its website.

(H/T: NPR)

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