Addressing cholera in Haiti

The ongoing Haiti cholera outbreak is the worst epidemic of cholera in recent history, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In a little over two years it has killed more than 7,900 Haitians and hospitalized hundreds of thousands. With this in mind, MedShare’s Western Regional Council decided to support St. Damien’s Hospital in Haiti by raising funds to ship them critically-needed medical aid. These supplies have already made a significant impact at the hospital. MedShare recently received this note of appreciation from our friend Wynn Walent, St. Damien’s National Director Assistant. Please take a moment to read his positive feedback, and see what we are able to accomplish together.

“We really do appreciate your support a great deal! So many of our patient’s lives are touched by the enormous support of MedShare. We are grateful for the friendship and resources provided by MedShare and are happy to share one such example.

The Paul family came to our cholera treatment center from roughly two hours away, just North of the rural town of Kenscoff. Two of the Paul children, ages 2 and 4, had come down suddenly with symptoms of cholera and were severely dehydrated upon arrival. Shortly after arrival, Mimause, the mother of the young children, also came down with symptoms. Thanks to the generous support of MedShare, not only was our pediatric center well stocked and prepared for the children, but our adult center was able to provide life saving treatment to Mimause as well.

As the cholera epidemic has faded from the headlines, funding our cholera efforts has become more and more difficult, and thanks to the support of MedShare, we’ve been able to see over 35,000 patients since the end of 2010. Essential donations such as IV sets and catheters have been essential to this work. In addition, medical equipment such as scales, infant warmers, pulse oximeters, and oxygen concentrators allow our staff to provide the highest level of care for our patients. MedShare’s system of ordering and delivering is incredibly efficient and effective and we always receive only what we requested. The supplies are high quality and well organized on delivery. We can’t thank MedShare enough for their vital support!”

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A New Year’s Message of Thanks Inspired by the People of Haiti: HOPE

In December, I had the opportunity to spend several days in Haiti visiting with several extraordinary MedShare partners.  While I was overwhelmed by the challenges this country and its people continue to face, I keep finding myself thinking of one word when I consider the overall experience of my visit:  HOPE.

I visited the Leveque community outside of Port-au-Prince, where – with support from MedShare-partner 410 Bridge – 93 families (half of those with a deaf family member) are living in community in permanent housing, and where eventually 169 families will dwell.  Two of the community leaders who are deaf, Berthide and Mackenson, spent time learning about MedShare by reading our annual report since my sign language abilities don’t extend much beyond “Nice to Meet You” and “Thank you!”  They did teach me a few new signs including that for “cow” (which crossed the road often during our visit) and “love” (a sign they used in every photo taken).

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As they showed us the amazing progress they’ve made in providing housing, access to water, agriculture and education for this community, I thought of the HOPE they are providing to hundreds of Haitians.

I was overcome with emotion when I visited the Isaie Jeanty Maternity Hospital and saw two beautiful but very small babies (less than 2 pounds) that had been given a chance at life thanks to supplies and incubators provided by MedShare in strong partnership with the First Lady of Haiti via Mona Adam, Northside Hospital in Atlanta, and GIANT. Thanks to dedicated Haitian leaders and health care providers, these babies and their families have HOPE for life.

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While these stories of HOPE may seem small compared to the millions of Haitians in need, I am truly inspired by the people of Haiti that are working diligently hour-by-hour, day-by-day to rebuild their country.  And, I am extremely grateful to the many MedShare supporters who have generously donated their volunteer time, medical supplies and equipment, and financial resources so that MedShare could support these efforts.  MedShare has shipped 84 forty-foot ocean containers full of medical supplies and equipment to Haiti over the past 15 years, with 7 in 2012 alone.  Thank you for supporting MedShare to provide HOPE and HEALING to the people of Haiti!

In Service,

Meridith Rentz, CEO & President

In Haiti, Fate Coincides Arrival of Atlanta Nonprofit’s Medical Shipment with Fatal Wreck

Shortly before midnight in Haiti on Monday, a truck’s brakes failed and it crashed into a small bus, then careened onto the sidewalk of one of Port-au-Prince’s busiest streets. An estimated 29 people were killed and 67 were injured. Fate coincided a same-day arrival of an ocean container of medical supplies and equipment, which will enable many to receive lifesaving treatment.

The oft-undersupplied Port-au-Prince’s Hopital General, where many of the survivors were taken, is able to provide treatment thanks to the Atlanta-based nonprofit MedShare.

“I thank you for the first container which arrived at a perfect time. The First Lady has ordered retrieval of the container immediately. There was a terrible accident in Port-au-Prince on Monday evening … The Hopital General in the city needs a lot of supplies,” says Mona Adam, Nurse, Special Envoy of the First Lady of Haiti, Sophie Martelly.

The ocean container was sent from MedShare, an Atlanta-based nonprofit that recovers and redistributes medical supplies and equipment. The container was sponsored by a metro Atlanta not-for-profit hospital. The container left Atlanta on December 1, 2011 and arrived in Haiti on January 16, 2012.

“The 1,000+ boxes of supplies on this shipment will make a difference to Haitians in their time of emergency,” says Meridith Rentz, CEO of MedShare. “Both before and after the 2010 earthquake, Haiti has held a special place in the heart of our organization, and we are committed to the ongoing strengthening of their healthcare system.”

In the organization’s 14 years, MedShare has shipped a total of 72 ocean containers containing over $8.8 million worth of medical supplies and equipment to Haiti. The most recent container left on January 11, 2012.

CEO Corner: MedShare in New York

On December 8th, 2011, MedShare’s New York Regional Council hosted a dinner at The University Club to welcome MedShare to New York. Our CEO and President Meridith Rentz gave an inspiring speech which we wanted to share.

“As Seth [Zachary, MedShare Trustee] shared, I have 3 little boys…..they were certainly a key motivation for me to become a part of this extraordinary MedShare team. I am delighted and honored to be here this evening to share more about the important work MedShare does every day.

Are there any other mothers in the room? What about fathers? Daughters? Sons? Brothers? Sisters? Okay – I think we’ve covered just about everyone. Close your eyes please – just for a moment. Imagine, if you will, being a pregnant mother at term and going to your local hospital only to find out that in order to deliver your baby you must go to the store and purchase the supplies you need in order to ensure a safe and successful delivery – but you have no money to do so. This is a common occurrence at a hospital in Uganda. Now, imagine delivering a premature baby only to find out the hospital doesn’t have an incubator and so your child will be transported in a shoe box by a motorcycle ambulance to another hospital in order to get the care she needs. This happens every day in Haiti. Now imagine your brother being in surgery and the anesthesia machine failing. This happened in Colombia. Fathers, imagine losing your son because the hospital at which he was born didn’t have something as simple as this, an endotracheal tube with infant resuscitation mask. This happened in Niger.

MedShare CEO Meridith Rentz speaking at the NY Benefit

These are difficult stories to hear. This past September, when the special envoy from the office of the First Lady of Haiti visited us at MedShare, she told us about the motorcycle transport of low birth weight infants. After she finished speaking, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. Those stories sit heavy, so heavy on your heart. If these situations were to occur in the United States, the outrage would be instantaneous and enormous. Lawyers would be called. Politicians would be stirred up. Op-eds would be written. Protests staged. Unfortunately, – and perhaps even outrageously – this is the status quo in many developing countries. A hospital or clinic may have the most talented, the most committed doctors and nurses in the world……but if they don’t have the critical supplies and equipment, there is often little they can do to save the lives of those patients that depend on them.

While we certainly have some challenges with our health system here in the United States, we are typically not lacking for supplies. In fact, as was shared in the videos, the US health system throws away millions of tons of medical waste per year, much of which is useful surplus created as a result of procedural excess and our regulatory environment. Surely we’re capable of finding a way to recover these items and get them into the hands of talented medical professionals caring for the mother in Uganda, the children in Haiti and Niger, and the brothers and sisters in Colombia.

Well, I have good news. In this case, we don’t need a protest; we don’t need op-eds; we don’t require the help of politicians. You see – MedShare is that bridge between our U.S. surplus and the tremendous need across the developing world. Here is the same endotracheal tube with infant resuscitation mask that the doctor in Niger needed to save a child’s life. It would have gone to a landfill if MedShare didn’t have the systems in place to recover it. We have hundreds of these items in our inventory right now and they are being ordered every day by the recipients we serve. We are taking something that is being discarded right here, every day by New York hospitals and getting it to a place where it can mean the difference between life and death.

The MedShare concept is simple – we take something that is no longer useful in one context and get it to another where it is. A place where it can improve healthcare and save lives. We do this in a way that values the dignity of the recipients and actually allows them to choose box by box exactly what they need. This high quality, responsible model that was developed carefully and thoughtfully by co-founders A.B. Short and Bob Freeman 13 years ago has been lauded through national studies by the Catholic Health Association and others.

Simple, yet powerful. Simple, and yet it takes a lot to make this happen. In order to create that bridge between surplus and need, MedShare needs hospital partners; we need suppliers and manufacturers; we need thousands of volunteers; and MedShare needs financial support. We need help from you.

In our early days, we recognized that there was nothing unique about the medical surplus in Atlanta, and our Board committed to developing an organization that – when appropriate – could be replicated and expanded into other communities. As Seth mentioned, the New York Tri-State area has more hospitals than any other market in the United States. This need was confirmed as part of a national pro bono expansion study conducted for MedShare by Accenture. So MedShare has developed a world-class, proven model and New York has the largest potential medical surplus in the U.S. that is not being systematically and comprehensively gathered. Any way you look at that equation, it points to the fact that hundreds of thousands of lives can be saved if MedShare joins this New York community and works in partnership with all you and many others.

In fact, even before we have had a chance to set up a facility here, we have been overwhelmed by the support of our tremendous New York Council, led by the extraordinarily committed Sandy Tytel. We were extremely honored to be selected by the North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System, one of the largest nonprofit health systems in the nation, to handle their surplus supply and equipment donations. Already, we have 80 collection sites throughout the system. North Shore LIJ “champions” have been to Atlanta for training, and have taken that knowledge back to train their staff to utilize this program. We recently processed a donation of 400 late model hospital beds from North Shore LIJ. Thanks to the The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation’s sponsorship, 150 of those beds have already been shipped to Accra, Ghana, to benefit needy hospitals there. We have another shipment planned to benefit a series of clinics in Peru scheduled for January. We have also received donations of IV pumps and poles from North Shore and are in the process of handling donations of baby incubators, anesthesia machines, and other useful equipment. Soon, this equipment and supplies will be in the hands of doctors and nurses across Africa and South America and will quite literally allow them to save lives.

MedShare has worked with Dennis Lynch and Sandy Tytel to send a container to Sunyani, Ghana, to benefit the charity health care facilities operated by the Catholic Church. Our MedShare team has worked with New York Drs. Julius Garvey and Allan Abramson to send a container to Jamaica and we are engaged in a project with North Shore LIJ employees from Sierra Leone to send a container there. With the support of excellent product manufacturers and distributors like Henry Schein, Covidien and Kimberly-Clark, we are able to supplement our recovered supplies with newly manufactured product.

While substantial, these results garnered over the past 6 months barely scratch the surface of MedShare’s potential community impact in New York. As we grow our physical presence in this market and establish a distribution center, we will be able to equip local medical teams, send hundreds of containers of medical supplies, and divert millions of cubic feet of medical surplus from area landfills. We will also create thousands of volunteer and civic engagement opportunities to mobilize the residents of the New York Tri-State Region in meaningful, high impact service. The potential is enormous.

Just like with any new venture in the for-profit world, before we can proceed with this next exciting phase in the New York market, we must attract seed capital and develop the key relationships required to support the MedShare model. We need introductions to hospitals, potential philanthropic donors, and volunteer, religious and civic groups who might want to become involved in MedShare’s mission.

I began my remarks by talking about real, specific stories that members of the MedShare team have experienced over the years. Unfortunately, those stories are not the exception to the norm – rather, the need in developing countries is truly exponential. There are 7 billion people living in the world today and billions of them live in poverty on less than $2 per day. Simply put, this world of ours needs more MedShare. This world – more specifically, mothers in Uganda, children in Haiti and Colombia, families in Niger, and countless others – they need the support of this New York community.

As you step up to this challenge, you have our commitment that MedShare will continue to be the bridge between New York medical surplus and tremendous need in developing countries. We will work hand-in-hand with the New York community, to save lives around the world, and keep surplus from ending up in your area landfills. On behalf of the millions of women, men and children whose lives have already been improved by MedShare supplies and equipment, THANK YOU for all you have done and all that I know you will do to help us to fulfill our mission of bridging the gap between surplus and need.”

This was part of our December 2011 newsletter. To view the rest – including stories on our expansion into NY and FL and our new videos – click here.

Mid-December Container Shipment Announcements

Mid-December Container Shipment Announcements

To view November’s Container Shipment Announcements, click here.

MedShare Ships Containers of Humanitarian Aid to Ecuador and Haiti

Canton Pablo Sexto, Ecuador

On August 4, MedShare shipped one container of medical humanitarian aid for Canton Pablo Sexto, Ecuador from the West Coast Regional Distribution Center last week. The container is carrying over 11,000 lbs of medical supplies that were individually selected by local doctors in the region. Canton Pablo Sexto is located in Morona-Santiago Province in the Ecuador’s eastern region, where medical supplies are scarce.  Included on the container were oropharyngeal airways, ambu bags, cotton swabs, OR gowns, TB syringes, surgical gloves, suction pumps, exam lights, an electrosurgical unit, and more.

Haiti

On August 10, MedShare’s Southeastern Regional Distribution Center loaded and shipped a 40 foot container filled with medical humanitarian aid for Haiti.  The container is carrying over 1,200 boxes of medical supplies which will be used by Zanmi Lasante (a.k.a. Partners in Health) to treat victims of the deadly resurgence of cholera in Haiti.  Some of the items on the container include:  blankets, sheets, adult diapers, gauze, gloves, paper towels, mattresses, and an oral rehydration solution called Drip Drop which was shipped to us from the donor for this container.

Thanks very much to all our partners who contributed to making these projects a reality!

Father’s Day Gift Idea!

Not sure what to give your dad this Father’s Day? We have the perfect solution. Read on…

A father with his child in a Haiti OR.

Whether a C-level executive or a sea-fisherman, fathers come in many forms. They all have one thing in common, though: they’re the backbone of their families, and their main concern is making sure their children are well-cared for.

What if, despite his best efforts, a father simply can’t provide the best care because of a lack of supplies? Hospitals in developing countries often do not have basic items, meaning a child can’t get his knee bandaged, his broken bone casted, or his cleft palate repaired. This Father’s Day, send Boxes of Hope in honor of your dad and give fathers around the world the ability to provide care for their children.

Boxes of Hope contain vitally needed items like syringes, sterile gloves and gowns, hospital beds and mattresses, stethoscopes, fetal monitors, nebulizers, surgical kits, and assorted medical supplies. Your support will help us provide these otherwise-scarce items to benefit the poor in developing countries. A box of medical supplies, which you can sponsor in quantities of two to 1,000, will give hope to fathers worldwide.

Donate by June 15th and we’ll send your a card to your dad recognizing this gift.

For Instead Of Give
$40 – Garden Tools – 2 Boxes of Hope
$80 – Cufflinks – 4 Boxes of Hope
$100 – Golf Outing – 5 Boxes of Hope
$250 – Airline Ticket – 12 Boxes of Hope (1 Quarter Pallet)

Click here to send Boxes of Hope.