Volunteers from Georgia Tech Make a Difference

If you’ve ever wondered how all the medical supplies donated to MedShare get in the hands of our healthcare recipients abroad, it’s thanks to dedicated volunteers that help sort and prepare the medical supplies for shipping. Our operation depends on volunteers to get these life-saving supplies to people who desperately need them.

Georgia Tech’s Engineering World Health Program is a special volunteer group. Not only do they donate their time, but they also provide another valuable resource: engineering skills. EWH’s mission is to help the world’s poorest with healthcare technology, and they do this by working with university-based biomedical engineers, industry professionals, charities that manage donated medical equipment, the international health community and developing countries to combine innovation in appropriate technology with direct support to medical technology management, maintenance and repair.

Every other Saturday, the EWS organization from GA Tech carpools to MedShare’s warehouse in Decatur to team up with our Biomedical Engineers to assess and repair medical equipment.

A member of EWS and recent MedShare volunteer Benjamin Thomas wrote the article below for the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory’s monthly newsletter, The Pioneer.

Engineering World Health at Georgia Tech

As many fellow Tech students, I participated in TeamBuzz and my first experience with Engineering World Health at Georgia Tech (EWH), which will definitely not be my last. With a mission to “bring awareness and sustainable solutions to the global inequities in health care in the developing world,” EWH works in conjunction with MedShare International to prepare refurbished medical devices for shipments. Named “Best New Organization “ on campus for the 2006-2007 school year, EWH has continued to hold on to high standards through the years.

MedShare is a non-profit charity headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia that receives old or broken medical devices donated by local hospitals and medical centers. The organization strives to make these devices usable. To this date, Medshare has shipped more than 550 forty-foot containers of medical supplies to 80 countries across the globe. These devices range from defibrillators and computer systems to basic products such as blood pressure machines and lab supplies. The net value of the otherwise discarded devices is estimated at 6.25 billion dollars a year. EWH accomplishes its mission through organizing bi-weekly carpools to the MedShare warehouse where EWH members volunteer and apply their engineering knowledge to evaluate and repair vast arrays of generously donated medical devices.

When I arrived at the MedShare operated warehouse, volunteers were assigned with the task of evaluating and repairing hospital beds for shipment. This immense warehouse held roughly 600 donated beds in need of motor inspections, switch adjustments, the addition of power supplies, and guard rail evaluations. Though it was a colossal undertaking, EWH managed to effectively process 300 beds in just a few hours.

The repair session was an engaging and productive learning experience. All of the senior members were enthusiastic to answer any questions about the organizat-ion and the projects EWH undertakes. During repair sessions, EWH works on a spectrum of medical devices ranging from complicated defibrillators and computer systems to simpler equipment like blood pressure machines or lab supplies. EWH is by no means a club just for Biomedical Engineering majors or the highly experienced; it welcomes anyone interest-ed in helping out those in need and expanding their knowledge on medical equipments.

I highly recommend EWH as an enjoyable and rewarding way of getting involved. EWH meets at 8:45 AM on every other Saturday at the second floor of the Student Center (outside the Music Listening Room) to carpool to the MedShare warehouse. The carpool leaves around 9:00 AM and returns to campus by 1:00 PM.

(Original link to article here.)

Thanks Georgia Tech and EWS!

For more information on volunteering at MedShare, visit our volunteer page.