A Pennsylvania nursing home is making fans of its wider community, students and environmentalists by giving away its gently used hospital beds and mattresses — first come, first served. 

Elk Haven Nursing Home in St. Marys, PA, recently bought 100 new beds to unify equipment at the facility. But that left officials with a quandary: What to do with fully operational beds without sending them needlessly to a landfill?

Elk Haven Administrator Arlene Anderson said the outgoing beds are in “great shape.” Thanks to a former staff member’s suggestion, the first 10 are committed to the Clearfield County Career and Technology Center for teaching purposes.

“Then we thought, ‘Why not put it out there to the public and see what happens?’” Anderson told the local Courier Express. Staff members said they had often heard of people having difficulty getting hospital beds due to cost and insurance restrictions, so outreach to the town of about 13,000 people 120 miles northeast of Pittsburgh seemed like a good idea. 

The 120-bed nonprofit rented a storage trailer for the new bed parts so maintenance workers could gradually assemble them and swap them into use. Community members requesting used beds are called to pick them up as soon as one becomes available since there is no extra storage area at the facility.

“This will continue until we have worked our way through the list or all beds are gone, whichever comes first,” said Anderson, who characterized the community response as very positive.