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Impact Ecuador: Why MedShare Matters

 

The following entry was written by 2018 Impact Trip team member, Mendal Bouknight. Serving as a MedShare Trustee and Secretary of the Board, Mendal Bouknight is a dedicated advocate for MedShare’s global mission having been introduced while President of the Piedmont Healthcare Foundation in Atlanta, Georgia. Piedmont is a founding partner of MedShare. During his career, Mendal served in senior leadership roles with Emory University; Clemson University, his alma mater; and The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta.  He currently resides in Greenville, South Carolina. You can see Mendal’s previous post here.

 

The Underlying Reality: WHY MedShare Matters

Our partners in Ecuador, the Junta, are like every other country/community MedShare touches. Between the donations MedShare delivers and those donations actually touching someone and benefiting them are complexities of culture and politics.

Ecuador’s system for caring for the needy and underserved falls to our partners, the Junta. Funding for Junta comes from the national lottery. And when that lottery is thriving is still only accounts for 70% of the cost needed. Layer on the fact that the country’s new political leadership has withheld distribution of lottery proceeds (currently the Junta is owed $140 million by the government) as they attempt to determine priorities for the country.

We heard stories of the challenges Junta had in distributing resources to northern Ecuador following the earthquake of 2015. Much had to do with local authorities and the drug cartels in that region of Ecuador which borders Columbia. These kinds of economic and governmental difficulties –difficulties that are so far-removed from our day-to-day experiences in the US– continue to be barriers to progress and stronger health systems. We were able to see first-hand the complexity of the challenges faced by our partners abroad and better understand their needs within that context.

 

Summary

Our partners in Ecuador are as resilient as they are grateful for all MedShare provides. They are devoted to their work with the Junta and to what they do for their fellow Ecuadorians. For every country and community MedShare serves, we are reliant on devoted people like Ernesto, Isabel, and Sister Annie. We are reliant on the physicians, the businessman who operates several of the hospitals we visited, the nuns in Alausi, the caretakers at Damien House, and the commitment and culture of industry leaders at Ingenio San Carlos.

MedShare benefits from the leadership and talent of our staff. Charles Redding is respected by the Junta and known for his leadership. Cristi Wells, while new in her role, displayed her resourcefulness and her professional skills throughout the trip.

Our ability as a Board, volunteers, business partners, and as a staff to continue our noble mission must always have, front and center in our work, institutions like Junta de Beneficencia de Guayaquil. For without them, our generosity could not be realized.

 

 

MedShare continues our invaluable relationship with Junta de Beneficencia de Guayaquil in Eucador. To cap-off another impactful fiscal year, MedShare made two donations of medical supplies and biomedical equipment to Junta, with more to come!

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Ecuador Impact Trip: Caring Communities

 

The following entry was written by 2018 Impact Trip team member, Mendal Bouknight. Serving as a MedShare Trustee and Secretary of the Board, Mendal Bouknight is a dedicated advocate for MedShare’s global mission having been introduced while President of the Piedmont Healthcare Foundation in Atlanta, Georgia. Piedmont is a founding partner of MedShare. During his career, Mendal served in senior leadership roles with Emory University; Clemson University, his alma mater; and The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta.  He currently resides in Greenville, South Carolina. You can see Mendal’s previous post here.

 

Visit to Damien House

Damien House clarified for me the fact that leprosy (Hansen disease) is not contagious. And the more important outreach we could give with a simple touch and hug to the residents living there would be powerful. The moment our party walked through the door, we each reached out to those who greeted us and provided the subtle human interaction their families and their culture had isolated them from experiencing.

 

Embraced in 1988 by a nun from America, Sister Annie Credidio, of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, B.V.M.  Sister Annie has made the people of Damien House her purpose. And with young American volunteers and the support of the Junta and MedShare, the men and women of Damien House are embraced in an understanding and compassionate community.

The Community of San Carlos

Employing as many at 3,700 people and embracing the entire family and community around, Ingenio San Carlos is a successful sugar cane enterprise that has existed and thrived for 120 years. To their credit, this family-owned business understands their success is founded in their investment in their people and their families.

Our party was the honored guest at a celebration where new wheelchairs were presented to more than a dozen residents with severe physical/ambulatory disorders. For one family where four adults were afflicted, the one sibling not impacted and caring for her siblings was overcome with gratitude and praise.

We were hosted at the local school, funded by San Carlos, visiting various classrooms, seeing the access these students have to current technology and the exposure they have to the arts. We were serenaded by a young girl with a beautiful voice and then by four young cellists performing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.”

We then toured the hospital provided by the company and saw the improvements in care over time thanks to Junta and MedShare.  From their Emergency Department to their diagnostic facilities to their on Obstetrician who delivers 25 babies a week, you see the importance quality healthcare means to a community of 13,000 + relying on this one industry for everyone’s wellbeing.

Ecuador Impact Trip: Passionate Gratitude

 

The following entries were written by 2018 Impact Trip team member, Mendal Bouknight. Serving as a MedShare Trustee and Secretary of the Board, Mendal Bouknight is a dedicated advocate for MedShare’s global mission having been introduced while President of the Piedmont Healthcare Foundation in Atlanta, Georgia. Piedmont is a founding partner of MedShare. During his career, Mendal served in senior leadership roles with Emory University; Clemson University, his alma mater; and The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta. He currently resides in Greenville, South Carolina.

 

Impact Ecuador

Reflecting on what impacted me the most from this five-day experience, it is the passionate gratitude expressed to our party on every front and the fortitude and conviction of those touched. With every visit, heart-felt words came deep from within those MedShare has supported.

Words of gratitude are what should inspire us all to further engage in assuring MedShare’s vision and mission are realized.

Strength in Partnership

Wherever MedShare has the opportunity to serve and impact, essential is a local partnership that is respected, strategic, and prepared to implement. In Ecuador, MedShare is grateful for the long-standing partner, Junta de Beneficencia de Guayaquil (the Junta).

We saw the gratitude and commitment of our local partners with the Junta. Our welcome session with our host set the tone and stage for the next five days. Ernesto Noboa, Junta’s Director, provided an inspired overview of the Junta’s proud history along with the challenges of the current political and economic challenges.

Our host for the trip, Isabel Valdez de Escala, International Relations Manager, proudly showed us her office and the globe presented to her by MedShare in 2017 for her service. Isabel made sure every need of ours was met and every opportunity to experience was available.

Gratitude at Every Visit. . .Teddy Bears, Touches and Serenades

With all of life’s challenges and complications faced by the people of Ecuador, those touched by MedShare brought home how powerful our gifts are to them through their expressions of gratitude.

As we toured the patient wards at Hospital Luis Vernaza and Hospital Leon Becerra and the children’s hospital, Hospital de Ninos, front line staff, patients, and administrators praised the Junta and MedShare for what a difference we bring to them.

Our three-hour (one way) travel through the banana, cocoa, and sugar cane plantations and up through the clouds along paved and gravel roads of the Andes to the town of Alausi provided deep and meaningful memories as we visited the Hogar Calderon Ayluardo girls’ school (orphanage) for girls ages 6 to 17.

Home to nearly 100 girls, this facility, operated by Ecuadoran nuns, is a haven. Ecuador lacks a structure for foster-care resources. Many of the girls are placed there when families can no longer care for them in the home, others may be there as a result of abuse in the home.

The dormitory facility we toured with rows of beds neatly made and a teddy bear on each pillow was an emotional moment as I realized each night instead of a loving parent to give comfort and assurance, this teddy bear was their surrogate for warmth and love.

The praise from the nuns for Junta and MedShare coupled with the smiles and the warm greetings of each young lady was evidence of their gratitude. And our party was entertained by one young girl from the Amazon region who performed for us a native dance and invited each male in our party to join her on the floor. The spirit of this moment spoke volumes!

 

See Mendal’s next post here.

Ecuador Impact Trip: Caring for Communities

The following entries were written by 2018 Impact Trip team member, Pat Shepherd. She is an Administrative Director at Sutter Health and leads Sutter’s Supply Chain Services for their Bay Area Operating Unit. She has been a tireless advocate for MedShare’s mission and has established an infrastructure within Sutter in support of our hospital recovery program. This is Pat’s first Impact Trip with MedShare. See her last post here.

 

San Carlos

On this final day of our trip we visited Ingenious San Carlos, where there is a sugar cane factory, a hospital, and school all run by the sugar factory management.

We were honored during a ceremony where wheelchairs were distributed to those with severe neurological or ambulatory disorders.  The gratefulness expressed by the recipients and their families was overwhelming and brought us to tears.  Some had wheelchairs that were extremely old and falling apart and others had no wheelchairs at all – their family members had to carry them around.  A device that is so common and easily obtainable in the US was a treasure to these patients!

We later toured the hospital and school supported and run by the sugar cane factory.  An arrangement reminiscent of an old coal mining town in the US about 100 years ago.  We had to puzzle through this arrangement too, but clearly the services were high caliber in contrast to the surrounding areas. At the school, we visited the computer lab and witnessed the students learning English and music.

The company-run hospital was clean and organized.  We toured the pharmaceutical storeroom and were informed that MedShare had a hand in securing much needed medications.

 

Heading Home

We are on our way home with time for contemplation.  My takeaways were two…. I was completely naive about the complexities of delivering supplies and equipment to underserved populations.  To be effective it literally “takes a village”.  There are no distribution centers to ship product to, and in fact, there are very few countries where shipping a container is safe.  The need for partnerships in recipient countries is essential to both identify the specific needs and to deliver product to the final destination.

My other “aha” was that the benefit of donations can be indirect.  The girls school in Alausi is a prime example.  Supporting the organization of Junta frees up some of their resources which allows them to create a healthier community by educating girls.  One has to take a holistic view.

I am so grateful that I was offered a chance to go on this trip and feel so “wise” for accepting it.  “Thank you”,  MedShare, for including me.

Ecuador Impact Trip: Donations Doing More

The following entries were written by 2018 Impact Trip team member, Pat Shepherd. She is an Administrative Director at Sutter Health and leads Sutter’s Supply Chain Services for their Bay Area Operating Unit. She has been a tireless advocate for MedShare’s mission and has established an infrastructure within Sutter in support of our hospital recovery program. This is Pat’s first Impact Trip with MedShare. See her first post here.

 

Visiting Hogar Calderón Ayluardo

Our drive to the Andes town of Alausi was over six hours, round trip.  In this isolated town is a girls’ school for students from 6-17 years of age.  These girls aren’t orphans, but come from homes throughout Ecuador that struggle to provide for them.  It was clear that the nuns had become their surrogate mothers.

What an uplifting experience we all had!  We each came away with far more than we could give with our modest personal donations.   Rows of beds adorned with teddy bears provided by Junta, illustrated the loving atmosphere.  Every girl seemed happy, physically well-cared for and confident.

What was MedShare’s role in this school?  I wondered at first since there seemed to be very little need for medical supplies.  But by the end if the trip, the puzzle pieces came together.  MedShare’s donation of supplies to Junta frees them to provide funding to the school.  So, while it is indirect, there was no doubt in our minds that the education and caring of these girls has a very positive effect on the overall health of Ecuador.

 

Visiting Damien House

During our Impact visit to Ecuador, we visited the Damien House run by Sister Ann.  This House provides diagnosis, treatment and, for some, a place to live for those afflicted with Hansen disease, also known as leprosy.

We were all so moved by the sense of “family” that emanated from the home.  It was quite apparent that Sister Ann created a loving and healing environment for those who were rejected by their own families and communities.  The residents created wonderful artwork which was proudly displayed in the walls and for sale to visitors. Everyone greeted us warmly, seemed happy and well cared-for.

The common thread of this visit to Damien House and to the others during our Impact trip is the relationship to Junta.  As our partner, Junta redistributes the container of supplies sent to them by MedShare and assures that the appropriate supplies get in the hands of those who serve the neediest.

 

Read more from Pat Shepherd on #ImpactEcuador…

Ecuador Impact Trip: The Power of Strategic Partnerships

The following entry was written by 2018 Impact Trip team member, Pat Shepherd. She is an Administrative Director at Sutter Health and leads Sutter’s Supply Chain Services for their Bay Area Operating Unit. She has been a tireless advocate for MedShare’s mission and has established an infrastructure within Sutter in support of our hospital recovery program. This is Pat’s first Impact Trip with MedShare.

 

MedShare Impact Trip, Day 1:

We visited Junta de Beneficencia de Guayaquil’s main office where we learned about the organization’s 130 year history of delivering healthcare for the underserved in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and its surrounding areas.

Junta’s Director, Ernesto Noboa, shared with the MedShare delegation its rich history and its current situation.  It delivers medical care in its four hospitals, runs two orphanages and two homes for the elderly, and finally provides two cemeteries – a cradle to grave continuum of caring.  Junta is the largest not for profit healthcare organization in Latin America.

We were very impressed with the efficiency and professionalism of the Junta-run and supported care sites.  Because of its performance, the organization has been enlisted by the Ecuadorian government to run four hospitals.  One hundred percent of Ecuador’s lottery net proceeds are used to fund medical services.  However, these funds are not sufficient to meet the care of Guayaquil’s medically needy.

Although services have significantly increased due to a governmental policy of the universal healthcare, we learned that the new administration has not been paying Junta and others resulting in very significant financial stress. Our shipments of supplies and equipment are needed now more than ever.

 

Earthquake in Ecuador

In April of 2016, a 7.8 earthquake shook Ecuador, which resulted in nearly 700 deaths and thousands of injuries.  The hardest hit area was in the northern part of the country bordering Colombia.  Its distant and remote location made delivering much needed medical supplies a dangerous mission.  The roads are treacherous and the drive to Esmeralda is unsafe due to drug trafficking activities.  It is also the home of the most underserved community – former African slaves.

Without Junta’s partnership, it would have been impossible for MedShare to deliver urgently needed medical supplies.   MedShare quickly mobilized and delivered a container of supplies to Ecuador where they were received by Junta and directly delivered via truck over the difficult and dangerous nine hour drive to the devastated site.  In addition to its quick response, MedShare provided the expertise in helping Junta develop a list of needed supplies that were appropriate for the immediate response after an earthquake.

On this Impact trip, we received a taste of Junta’s organization, its capabilities and the difficulties they faced in delivering the MedShare supplies.  It was clear to all of us that without this strategic partnership – the all-important “boots on the ground” – MedShare could not reach the earthquake victims.  For me, the trip to the mountainous Andes was an eye-opener.  I certainly was naive to the complexities of getting the supplies – I was so instrumental in collecting at my hospitals – to their final destination for patient care. Working together, the two organizations demonstrated the true meaning of the word “partnership”.

 

Read more from Pat Shepherd on #ImpactEcuador…

The Path to Healing & Helping in Guatemala

The following entry was written by Victoria Valikova, medical doctor and founder of Health & Help. It is a follow-up piece to Victoria’s first post. Health & Help recently opened their clinic in Chuinajtajuyub, Guatemala with the help of MedShare.

When you realize that you have the power to change something, you have two paths you can take from that moment on: go home and forget about what you just saw, or go and change something.

Health & Help’s people are dreamers. We dreamed about what we could do here in Guatemala, in a remote village called Chuinajtajuyub. So we built a clinic, a clinic that would spend every day, 7/24, attending to people in need.

We started from the very basic: we opened a health facility in a local school. Now we have a clinic with three consultation rooms, a laboratory, a pharmacy, and three beds for our in-patient room. Volunteers live on-site and provide permanent support in emergency situations. We assist deliveries, suture machete cut wounds, and help severely sick patients every day. Quickly, we became the number one health center in our area. People are sure when they come to us they will get help and support.

Health & Help Clinic works with severely malnourished kids and elderly people. We provide education and treatment for people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. We promote family planning and we take care of pregnant women in every trimester of pregnancy.

We have a nice team of professionals and we’re always searching for more volunteers to work with us. If you are interested to work in Guatemalan mountain village – please contact us at viktoriya.valikova@gmail.com.

Last, but not least: we have a great friend, their name is MedShare. They make our work so much easier because with them we don’t have to worry about running out of medical supplies. We always have materials to take care of our patients. We are always sure that we will be able to help, because of them.

From Guatemala with love,

Victoria