With China's sharing economy booming, a hospital in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, is providing shared wheelchairs for people in need.
Nanjing Drum Tower Hospital, one of the most prestigious hospitals in the province, offers wheelchairs at five spots in the hospital, including the emergency department and underground garage.
Wang Jing, director of the hospital's discipline office, said the move has been warmly received.
"The first batch of 50 wheelchairs that were placed on Sunday had been borrowed within an hour," she said. "We're considering placing more for the patients."
To use a wheelchair, a person scans the QR code next to it and pays a 98 yuan (.60) deposit. The wheelchair is free for the first two hours and then charges 2 yuan per hour. A maximum of 20 yuan will be charged for 24 hours.
"We used to place free wheelchairs for patients," Wang said. "But many people didn't return them in time. Some even borrowed the free wheelchairs for several weeks."
A shared wheelchair is used about 7.5 times a day, on average, Wang said.
The system shows the location of each wheelchair and will send a messages to the borrower if a chair is not returned after several days.
Kang Bo, father of a 12-year-old boy who broke his leg, said he prefers to borrow a shared wheelchair instead of buying one, though the chairs are not expensive. A cheap wheelchair sells for about 300 yuan on a Chinese online shopping platform.
"It would be a waste to throw away the wheelchair after recovery," he said.
"I don't have room for a wheelchair in my apartment, and it also feels weird to store a wheelchair at home. And it's not the kind of thing that you can give to other people as a present. A shared wheelchair can meet my needs and solve all the problems."
Kang also suggested that scenic spots in China should provide shared wheelchairs for the elderly, because many of them get tired after hours of walking.
The hospital's Wang said professional maintenance workers will clean and disinfect the shared wheelchairs regularly.
Other hospitals in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, and Jinan, Shandong province, also provide shared wheelchairs for patients.