Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Getting our hopes up – portable oxygen concentrators

A couple months ago I did some research on portable oxygen concentrators. We really liked the Inogen One concentrator we used while we were in Japan so I called all the dealers in town to see who carried it and how much it would cost. All three dealers mentioned to me that the Inogen One is an inferior concentrator compared to the EverGo by Respironics. The EverGo has longer battery life and more oxygen per puff. It also stores more oxygen inside than the Inogen One. The EverGo sounded very good so I got a quote and submitted it to Pacific Blue Cross for pre-approval. They eventually, like 2 months later, approved the machine saying they’ll pay the first $4,200 and we pay the rest.

Ugh! The rest turned out to be $1,500 based on one supplier’s quote. Okay, don’t panic, I told myself. I just need to shop around. So I did, and found another local supplier that sold it for $700 less. Now that’s more reasonable, I thought.

Beth and I took a quick trip to the supplier at lunchtime today as I wanted to check the machine out, particularly the noise level, and the Oxygen Therapist wanted to see if the machine was suitable for Beth (if it could maintain her oxygen levels). Well, the OT turned on the machine and my first thought was ‘oh, oh… this machine isn’t much quieter than the honking big one we have at home.’ It was much louder than the Inogen One. The Inogen One, we used everywhere, and all I remember hearing was the puff when she breathed. I don’t remember a fan. If we had the EverGo I’d feel very conscious of the noise we were creating.

Beth also thought the noise was too much. There’s no way we could carry on a conversation with the concentrator going (it was annoying to me for the short time we had it on, imagine how much worse it was for Beth who has super-sensitive hearing). And there’s no way Beth would use it beside her for hours on end.

So, we’re back to square one with the concentrators. We want to go back to the original plan and get the Inogen One. We know it’s quiet. It also has a big handle like a curling rock and can be taken out of its carrying case. The EverGo needs to stay in its case so has all kinds of zippers and closures – which Beth pointed out would be hard for her to manipulate.

I’ve got to put a call in to Pacific Blue Cross to see whether I need to resubmit a quote and go through the approval process all over again. And then I’ve got to shop around for the best price. I want to use your donations as wisely as possible.


Neil said...

I understand your concerns about noise. Were I work, there's a young lady with a portable oxygen supply of some sort who's taking a drawing class. It is a steady noise, not too loud to hold a conversation, but when she leaves the room, the noise is noticeable by its absence. The instructor usually plays CDs quietly while the class is drawing, but he says the oxygen device drowns out the CD player.

So, from my limited experience, go for the quietest concentrator you can! If the Imogen machine can deal with Beth's needs, go for it.


Dawn Allenbach said...

Go with what works. Always.

Unknown said...

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