MedShare ships needed supplies and equipment to Congo hospital

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When MedShare’s 40-foot container of medical equipment and supplies arrived at The General Referral Hospital of Panzi (GRHP) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the health care staff knew the items would have a major impact on their community’s quality of health care.

Panzi Hospital is located in Bukavu in the eastern part of the DRC.  A general hospital for the local population, it was founded in 1998 by human rights activist Dr. Denis Mukwege, its current medical director. Dr. Mukwege is recognized as an interntional expert in the treatment of survivors of sexual violence and women with gynecological problems resulting from reproductive trauma.

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Above: Panzi Hospital founder and medical director, Dr. Denis Mukwege (left) and a 
staff member with a patient at the hospital.

The container, one of two sponsored by the Carlo and Micol Schejol Foundation, was shipped from Oakland, CA, USA, in the summer of 2013 to the port at Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. It traveled overland through Rwanda to the hospital in Bukavu, arriving there in late November 2013.It was filled with supplies and equipment doctors at the hospital said they could use immediately. In addition to a portable X-ray unit, pulse oximeter, and an ECG machine, some of the supplies included:  aprons, aspiration canisters, bandage rolls, hypothermia blankets, blood administration sets, blood collection sets, breathing circuits, cannulas, baby caps, catheters examination gloves, sutures, and syringes.

ImageOne example of how MedShare’s supplies were used involved a patient with a severely damaged hand who came to the Panzi Hospital emergency room. Doctors knew they had never had appropriate equipment to perform the surgery that this patient needed. Using surgical instruments from MedShare, a surgeon specializing in reconstructive procedures performed the surgery necessary to save the patient’s hand. Had the patient not received this surgery, he would have been severely disabled. This man now has a chance to recover good functioning in his hand.

Using supplies from MedShare in another procedure, a surgeon was able to successfully treat an American missionary who suffered from carpal tunnel syndrome in both her hands – the first time that surgery had been performed at Panzi Hospital. It is clear from the reports that MedShare’s shipments will greatly assist the hospital’s staff as they work to improve health care in the Bukavu community.

MedShare partner shows life-saving miracles start with small packages

The J. F. Kapnek Trust has been a MedShare partner for about five years, ever since Executive Director Dan Robbins, M.D. learned about our work in the San Francisco Bay area. “I can always find a large number of medical supplies at MedShare that meet the specific needs of the patients we serve,” he noted. “For example, adult catheters are of little use if what we really need are catheters for infants and children.”

robbins-suppliesAbove: Some of the supplies Dr. Dan Robbins has received from Medshare’s Western Region Distribution Center included pediatric cannulas and IV catheters for Harare Children’s Hospital in Zimbabwe.

The J.F. Kapnek Charitable Trust operates one of the largest pediatric HIV/AIDS transmission prevention programs in Africa. Based in Harare, Zimbabwe, one of southern Africa’s most impoverished countries, the organization serves approximately 400 birthing centers and 120,000 pregnant women.

In a country with a total population of 12 million, there are an estimated 2 million AIDS orphans. Over the past 40 years, the Trust’s programs, centered at Harare Children’s Hospital, have prevented thousands of new pediatric HIV and AIDS cases each year.

A practicing pediatrician on staff at the Oakland Children’s Hospital, Dr. Robbins has been taking medical supplies to Zimbabwe to assist health care professionals for about 10 years. “It’s been a moving experience for me because I had to confront the harsh reality that children in Zimbabwe died of the same diseases we can prevent here in the United States,” he said.

Robbins said medical supplies the Trust has received from MedShare have significantly helped the work of health care professionals at Harare Children’s Hospital. “Doctors there often run out of the supplies they needed to perform critical procedures,” he added. “Our partnership with MedShare has helped doctors in Zimbabwe save lives.”

A trailer packed with preschool items, wheelchairs, and medical supplies – some of those supplies from MedShare’s Western Region Distribution Center – left the San Francisco Bay area on Monday, March 31, 2014 bound for Zimbabwe. The Trust’s work project has tremendous support from the Lafayette, California community where it maintains a small office to support its work in Zimbabwe.

robbinspic2Dr. Dan Robbins (center photo, left), with medical staff members at Harare Children’s Hospital

Dan Robbins says the J.F. Kapnek Trust hopes to sponsor a 40-foot container from MedShare in the future. “We’ll be working toward that goal,“ he added. “MedShare has been a key part of the long-term, positive impact we’re having on improving the health care of mothers, children and families in Zimbabwe.”

Click here for more information about MedShare’s medical mission team program. For more information on the work of the J.F. Kapnek Charitable trust, visit www.jfkapnektrust.org.

A generous gift for our southeast region volunteer program

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Our volunteers’ work at the Southeast Region Sorting Center in Decatur, GA will be a lot easier now thanks to a generous gift from Atlanta area volunteer Tom Jacob. Last weekend, he graciously donated 20 NEW tape guns to our Volunteer Program!

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Thank you, Tom! We greatly appreciate your support of our programs and our work! MedShare volunteers ROCK! Interested in volunteering at MedShare? Visit the Volunteer page on our website. We’d love to have you join us!

Western region volunteers see MedShare’s impact first-hand on trip to Tanzania

Our volunteers consistently go above and beyond in their service to MedShare. In the summer of 2013, MedShare’s Western Region volunteers came together to raise over $22,000 to ship a container of much-needed medical supplies to a hospital in Tanzania. But that wasn’t enough. Some volunteers decided to travel to the recipient hospital in Tanzania to volunteer their time and talents on the ground.

In mid-February 2014, Camille Harris, Fran Jursco, and Nancy Menne traveled to Shirati KMT Hospital in Tanzania. MedShare’s 40-foot container was still en route at the time, but they hand-carried additional medical supplies from MedShare’s Western Region Distribution Center as well as specially requested items for the hospital staff.tanzaniamap2During their stay in Shirati, these intrepid volunteers provided meals for patients at the hospital, toured the facility, and got to observe Dr. Chirangi in the operating room. “Fran and I were recognizing all the stuff we sort (at MedShare): bovies, tips, vicryl sutures, drapes, etc. [in the operating room]. Camille decided surgery was not her thing so she folded gauze for future surgeries,” said Nancy. “Even though it appears we will miss the arrival of the container, this has been a very fulfilling trip to see just how desperately our work at Medshare is needed.” The volunteers reported that most of the supply cabinets in the hospital are bare and Dr. Chirangi was already using the supplies they brought with them.

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Above: Fran Jursco serving food to the patients at Shirati Hospital. Photo credit: Nancy Menne

 The group has left Shirati and is now travelling through other parts of Africa.  Nancy writes: We have said goodbye to Tanzania and it was sad to leave. Dr. Chirangi had all his department heads waiting to see us off when we came to say goodbye. Each one of them were so grateful for the work all of the volunteers at MedShare do, for the volunteers putting in the effort and money to ship the container, and for the expense we undertook to travel to Shirati. It was an unbelievable experience, and made me truly understand how much is needed in developing countries where they have no clean water, walk several miles to school each day, no nutritious food at the hospitals or schools, and basically just fight to survive.” 

What an eye-opening experience and incredible testament to the importance and impact of our work at MedShare. Thank you, Nancy, for sharing these insights from your trip. And thank you to all of MedShare’s volunteers and supporters who go above and beyond every day to make our work possible. We are grateful for your dedication to our mission to bridge the gap between the surplus of medical supplies in the United States and the need in hospitals like Shirati KMT Hospital in Tanzania

MedShare container has arrived in Shirati!

Editor’s Note: The 40-foot container with medical supplies and equipment sponsored by MedShare’s Western Region volunteers was shipped from the U.S. west coast in November 2013. It arrived at Shirati KMT Hospital on Monday, March 10! See photos of the arrival below.
TanzaniaPicsBlog

Typhoon Haiyan Relief: MedShare’s impact in the Philippines

November 8, 2013 brought an unrelenting storm to the Philippines, packing wind gusts of more than 200 miles per hour. Super Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms in history, ripped through the islands, damaging businesses, communities, and health care facilities, and taking thousands of Filipino lives.

As humanitarian aid began arriving in Tacloban and other locales in the immediate aftermath of the typhoon, MedShare was among the nonprofit health care organizations providing assistance to the victims and laying the groundwork for long term relief.

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Click here to read more about MedShare’s continuing impact on the humanitarian relief efforts in the Philippines as the country rebuilds after the typhoon’s devastating impact.