MedShare CEO to Speak at en2emTalks

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, Enterprise2Empower Talk is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At the event,  video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group.  en2emTalks will feature four high-profile social innovators who will give TED-style (18-minute) talks on their businesses and experiences. Our very own Meridith Rentz is one of the four innovators that will be speaking, and we invite you to join us in hearing her speak.

The event is on March 10th, 2012 from 12-3pm at Georgia Tech’s Klaus Atrium. You can find more information about the event here.

We hope to see you there!

Kenya Trip Notes from the Field: Sandy Tytel

By Sandy Tytel, Chair, MedShare New York Regional Council

My name is Sandy Tytel, and I currently serve as a member of MedShare’s North East Regional Council. My daughter Jennifer is also involved with MedShare and is planning a Young Professionals Fundraising Event in NYC. We woke up this morning in Nairobi after 22 hours of traveling, filled with so much excitement and adrenaline. We couldn’t wait to start our day and adventure. While tomorrow is dedicated to meeting our Kenyan health care partners—more of a real roll up your sleeves work kind of day–today is more about getting acquainted with one another. Many of us have never met before. Ginny, Laureen, Jennifer and I represent the New York Region. Angie, Meredith, Pat, Lindsay, Charlie, Tom, A.B., Tina and Terry represent Atlanta. Ed, from Missouri works for Catholic Healthcare and Bob and Liz are from San Francisco. Following a relaxing and delicious buffet breakfast at the hotel, our group was on its way.  First stop, The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust—an elephant orphanage in Nairobi. All I can say is WOW. This place is so impressive and inspiring. We met 16 rescued orphaned elephants ranging from 3 months to 34 months of age who arrived at the Nursery in mourning and traumatized by the events that caused the separation from their mothers. These calves are fed, loved and cared for until they are ready to be released back into the wild. The humanity demonstrated by the elephant keepers was awe-inspiring. The keepers truly become parents to the orphaned elephants and stay with them up until they are fully comfortable in their new wild environment.

The experience at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust was not only educational, moving and emotional, but also a wonderful start to what we know will be an amazing trip. The elephant orphanage was a wonderful introduction to Kenya, its landscape and unique wildlife as well as to each other. Can’t wait until tomorrow!

Angie Fife Engelberger, MedShare Southeastern Council Member

Baby Elephant

Elephant at the David Sheldrick WIldlife Trust

This post is part of a series we’re doing over the coming days while MedShare staff and Board of Trustee members travel through Kenya from February 17 – 27. We invite you to share the experience with them by reading their stories; to access them, click on the “Africa Trip“  icon in the right sidebar. Safe travels, team!

Kenya Trip Notes from the Field: MedShare’s Lindsey Barnett

By Lindsey Barnett, MedShare’s Senior Program Manager

From the moment Meridith and I stepped off the plane, a flood of excitement and gratitude rushed through me to be in this place – well, excitement mixed with a strong desire to shower and rest my eyes after an almost sleepless 24 hours. :) There’s so much to appreciate about Kenya and the countries surrounding this region, from the lush landscapes to the cheerful lilt in the voices of new friends who welcome you with warmth and graciousness. As we visit this incredibly diverse group of partners over the next week, I can’t wait to hear the thoughts, questions and ideas that come from those in our group – people who are coming together from across the U.S with a rich blend of knowledge, experiences and a deep-rooted passion for making a difference in our global community.  As we’re traveling, we’d love to hear from those at home who may have questions or seeds they’d like to plant during this opportunity to probe a little deeper in the field – could make for some really interesting dialogues with our Kenyan partners.

Send us your thoughts and stay tuned….

This post is part of a series we’re doing over the coming days while MedShare staff and Board of Trustee members travel through Kenya from February 17 – 27. We invite you to share the experience with them by reading their stories; to access them, click on the “Africa Trip“  icon in the right sidebar. Safe travels, team!

Kenya Trip Notes from the Field: MedShare CEO

By Meridith Rentz, MedShare CEO and President

We’re on our way……

Lindsey and I are on the flight from Atlanta to Amsterdam.  I want my body to think it’s 6:00 am (Nairobi time) but not much luck.  My mind is racing with anticipation and excitement and last-minute worries.  It’s much too hard to sleep as I consider all that we’re about to see, feel, touch, smell, hear…..experience.  We are going to have the gift of learning about the impact of our MedShare work up-close and personal.  What works?  What doesn’t?  How can we improve?  How can we have sustainable impact?

Once we arrive in Nairobi, Lindsey and I will do final preparations before our wonderful MedShare group arrives.   Bob, Liz, Sandy, Laureen, Ginny, Pat, Charlie, Tina, AB, Angie, Terry, Tom, Ed and Jennifer……hurry on up, we’re ready for you!

This post is the first of a series we’ll host over the coming days. MedShare staff and Board of Trustee members will be in Kenya from February 17 – 27, and they’ll be sharing their stories and first-hand accounts on the MedShare blog. We invite you to share the experience with them by reading their stories; to access them, click on the “Africa Trip”  icon in the right sidebar. Safe travels, team!

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.

Key Surgical® Donates More than 800,000 Masks to MedShare

Key Surgical®, a leading supplier of sterile processing and operating room supplies, has donated more than 800,000 faceshields and protective masks to MedShare, an Atlanta-based non-profit that recovers and redistributes surplus medical supplies and equipment to developing countries in desperate need of these supplies.

“The faceshields and protective masks provided by Key Surgical are destined for a number of developing countries where they will improve the quality of healthcare available,” said Meridith Rentz, CEO and president of MedShare. “We’re grateful to Key Surgical for their partnership in helping us bridge the gap between surplus and need.”

The donation by Key Surgical helps address a critical need in many developing countries. The World Health Organization estimates that millions of people in the developing world die because of inadequate medical care.

MedShare collects surplus medical supplies and equipment from hospitals, distributors and manufacturers, and redistributes those supplies to qualified healthcare facilities in the developing world. Since the organization was founded in 1998, over $100 million worth of medical supplies and equipment have been sent on more than 750 shipments to 88 countries around the world, saving countless lives and over 2 million cubic feet of space from U.S. landfills.

“We’re proud to be associated with MedShare,” said Brian O’Connell, Chief Operating Officer of Key Surgical. “We believe in their cause and their ability to get our supplies into the hands of those who can do the most good for those in the most need.”

About Key Surgical
Founded in 1988, Key Surgical specializes in supplying hospitals, surgical ambulatory and outpatient centers with a complete line of sterile processing, operating room and clean room supplies that focus on cleaning, protecting, identifying and packaging of surgical instruments. Dedicated to delivering exceptional customer service, Key Surgical offers more than 2,500 medical products worldwide. The company is committed to manufacturing and distributing the highest quality medical products, and to maintaining all applicable ISO and FDA regulatory requirements.

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.