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.

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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…

Project Medishare prepares opening of new maternal health center (re-post)

Project Medishare for Haiti is a nonprofit based in Florida that was founded in 1994 by Dr. Barth Green and Arthur Fournier. The organization is dedicated to sharing its human and technical resources with its Haitian partners in the quest to achieve quality healthcare and development services for all. As you can imagine, their mission has become ever more vital since the 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti in January 2010.

To support Project Medishare’s opening of a new maternal clinic in the Central Plateau, MedShare recently donated equpiment. Medishare’s Jennifer Browning wrote a great post detailing the project on their blog, and I wanted to share it here:

Project Medishare prepares opening of new maternal health center

By Jennifer Browning

Dr. Gerarde Mondesir conducts a prenatal exam for 24-year-old Jesula Alexander at the clinic in Marmont. Upon opening, the maternal health center will provide women in the Central Plateau a full package of women’s health services including reproductive health education, family planning, along with HIV/AIDS counseling and testing. "I am so happy about the maternal health center opening," Alexander said. "I hope it is ready by the time I have my baby so that I don’t have to travel far to have my baby and receive healthcare. I can have my baby here." Photo by Jennifer Browning.

Jean Vasula, 17, sits with her 2-month-old son Maté at the clinic in Marmont waiting to see the doctor. Here doctors see everything from pediatrics to adult medicine and for now, even provides family planning as well as prenatal and postnatal exams.

Thanks to the Greig Family, who completely funded the construction of the Maternal Health Center, and MedShare who donated all of the medical equipment, women in the Central Plateau are closer to having access to a full package of women’s health services including reproductive health education, family planning, along with HIV/AIDS counseling and testing.

A grant provided by Ralph Lauren is assisting with upstart costs such as staff salaries. Currently, Project Medishare is recruiting and interviewing midwives, nurses and other personnel for the center.

Vasula said while she was pregnant with Maté, she visited the Marmont clinic each month for her prenatal care. She said she is excited that there will be a clinic dedicated to women.

“The new maternal health clinic will be so good for [women in the community],” Vasula said. “Right now, here in Marmont we have to depend on the hospital in Thomonde. If we need a test, we have to go to Thomonde; or if we have any complications we have to go to Thomonde or maybe even further in Hinche. I am glad the maternal center is opening here because it will serve the whole community and all women here will have access.”

In Haiti, and particularly in the Central Plateau, the high rate of maternal mortality remains a challenge. Haiti’s statistics regarding maternal mortality are among the highest in the Caribbean: 1 out of every 37 female deaths is linked to a high-risk pregnancy.

Haiti’s poor suffers by far the highest maternal mortality ratio in the Western Hemisphere. According to UNICEF, out of 100,000 live births, 670 Haitian women died of pregnancy-related causes in 2006.

Familiar with complications that can come with childbirth, Vasula hopes by having a maternal center in the community, less women will lose their babies during birth.

“It will help because with me, I had trouble during my pregnancy,” Vasula, who had her baby in Thomonde, said. “If I had my baby at home like many women do here, I would have lost my baby.

Vasula said when she was going into labor with Mate, she was at home with a mid-wife, but there were complications. Her family found a way to get her to Thomonde where she eventually had a C-section. While the maternal health center won’t be performing surgeries like C-sections, the medical staff there will be able to monitor the delivery and send women like Vasula to Thomonde for emergencies.

Gillef Mieloudes, 33, gave birth to her son Yadley at home. She said she was lucky that she didn’t have any complications.

Mieloude who lives in Denizrad situated between Thomonde and Marmont went to Thomonde for her prenatal checkups each month and planned to give birth at home, with the help of a midwife. But by the time the midwife showed up she had already had the baby.

She said she is happy knowing the maternal health center will open soon so that women in her community will have the services they need.

“When the maternal health center opens, if any women have complications with their pregnancy then they will know that there is a place for us to go,” Mieloude said. “Right now women in my community rely on Thomonde for the things that we need when it comes to our health. It will be so nice to have a place that is for women only.

The new maternal health center will be equipped with a full laborator, incubators, examination and observation rooms thanks to a generous equipment donation provided by MedShare. Photo by Jennifer Browning.

Jacque Balde, an auxillary nurse for the Ministry of Health at the Marmont Clinic said there is a lot of interest in the maternal health center.

For now women go to the clinic in Marmont to receive women’s health services, and the new maternal health center will allow the Marmont clinic to focus more on pediatric and adult medicine.

“This is important that the people here will have such service, a good service in their home in Marmont,” he said. “When the maternal health center opens it will allow us to organized the Marmont clinic better so we can focus on pediatric and adult medicine.”

Balde is all too aware of complications that can come with childbirth. A few months ago, is wife suffered from eclampsia and gave birth to their son two months early.

“She gave birth at Hinche but there were no incubators,” he said. “They wrapped up our baby and kept him close to my wife, but at seven months you need an incubator. When I saw the incubator at the maternal health center it made me think of my son. If there had been an incubator at Hinche, it could have saved the life of my child.”

As the field coordinator for Marmont, Balde also organizes Project Medishare’s community health agents to go out into the community. As soon as he gets word that the center will open, it will be his job to educate the community health agents to let people know about the maternal health center and about the updated medical equipment available for the women in the community.

Project Medishare internist, Dr. Gerarde Mondesir said a big problem right now is that many of the women come to the Marmont clinic for their prenatal follow-up, but then they will go give birth somewhere else like Thomonde or in Hinche.

“The doctors and midwives there have never seen them before and have no clue about how their pregnancy has been the past nine months,” she said. “I think that it is important to have a maternal health center here, because if we detect a possible problem during their prenatal visit, we will know it and it will be on their file when they come in to give birth. We will be able to follow-up with them better because all of their care is happening in one place.”

Dr. Mondesir said it is also essential that women in Marmont will have a center in their community where they can give birth. She hopes by having the maternal health center, less women will have their babies at home. And she feels this will help decrease the maternal mortality rate in the community of Marmont.

“Sometimes the women live very far and getting them on the road and then all the way to Hinche or all the way to Thomonde is very difficult for them,” Dr. Mondesir said. “When the women realized how long it will take to get to the hospital, they just prefer to stay at home and have the baby there. I think that the maternal health center will also help decrease the maternal mortality rate here in this community. While there will be some mothers who still have their babies at home because they can’t make it here in time, I believe more women will come here knowing that there is a place close and someone here who can help them.”

The maternal health center is scheduled to open this spring.

We are proud to support such a wonderful mission, and look forward to working alongside Project Medishare on other projects in the future. Be sure to visit Project Medishare’s site to learn more about their mission (and support it), and their blog to read the lastest news.

2010 in Review: A Year of Growth and Accomplishment

MedShare Volunteers in 2010: Van Hout Family

The drop of a ball that signals a new year often brings with it reflection, appreciation, and excitement at the prospect of things to come. For MedShare, 2010 was a year of growth and accomplishment, and we’d like to take a moment to share and celebrate our achievements that you helped make possible.

Whether you support MedShare through countless volunteer hours, monetary gifts, product donations, being a community ambassador, or in another way, we want to take a moment to thank you as the MedShare mission cannot be sustained without you.

Infrastructure reorganization saw the expansion of staff in the Western Region and the restructuring of current staff, both of which allowed MedShare to increase efficiency in many areas; one example was being able to respond quickly to the earthquake in Haiti.

Speaking of Haiti, MedShare was able to respond quickly due to our nimbleness, capabilities, and previous working relationship with the Haitian government and hospitals. One year later, MedShare has shipped 28 40-foot containers filled with more than 164 tons of life-saving medical supplies and equipment to Haiti, and supplied 83 medical mission teams with more than 14,000 pounds of medical supplies for treating the sick and injured.

MedShare continued to be supported by a strong Board and expanded its local presence in both the San Francisco Bay Area and Atlanta by growing representation on both Regional Councils, laying the groundwork for the organization to flourish. Each Council took on a leadership role and raised funds to sponsor containers of medical supplies and equipment, one to the Kingdom of Tonga and the other to Mali, two of the most desperate places on Earth. Board and Regional Council members also participated in the MedShare trip to Ghana, where they visited beneficiaries of MedShare containers and saw firsthand how MedShare makes a difference.

One of our main concerns at MedShare is, of course, reducing environmental impact. In addition to redirecting tons of medical supplies from landfills each year, we’ve also made changes to our warehouses in both the Southeast and West this year. Both were outfitted with motion-activated lights, saving each facility from needlessly wasting energy. The West has low-flow toilets, and the Southeast will begin installing solar panels next month.

Our communities recognized us for going green: MedShare was selected the winner in the “Green Giving” category by Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 2010 Environmental Awards, and the Western Region was named a Waste Reduction Awards Program (WRAP) winner by the CalRecycle Waste Reduction Award Program.

In December, we exceeded our goal of 10 containers by shipping 14, and closed the calendar year with a total of 101 shipments – a 33% increase over the same period in 2009.

Perhaps one of the most exciting things on the horizon for MedShare in 2011 is our potential for expansion. Now that the economy has stabilized somewhat and MedShare has developed a stronger base of support both nationally and in existing locations, the Board of Trustees and senior staff are looking for other cities in the U.S. where we can expand the MedShare mission. This process is a prudent and thoughtful one that has been led and facilitated by Accenture to help MedShare achieve the highest possible performance and leverage for the resources at our disposal.

Your support is the fuel for the MedShare mission. During a very difficult economic time for our nation and the world, the MedShare mission has grown substantially. It would not happen without YOU. We are so grateful for everything you’ve done, and look forward to sharing the ride with you in 2011.

(This story is an excerpt from our January e-newsletter. To read the entire newsletter – featuring stories MedShare’s trip to Ghana and a volunteer profile on Deborah Printz – click here.)

Charity Navigator: Haiti One Year Later

A walker donated by MedShare gives a young Haitian amputee the ability to walk again

Yesterday, January 12th, 2011, marked the one-year anniversary of the devastating earthquakes in Haiti. To mark the occasion, Charity Navigator, America’s premier independent charity evaluator, created a special section on their website to commemorate the significant outpouring of generosity from donors across America.

MedShare was one of the charities highlighted in the report; below are the questions and answers that appeared highlighting how we’ve served our neighboring country as they continue to recover.

What has your charity done in Haiti?

Thanks to the outpouring of support from donors and volunteers, MedShare has shipped the equivalent of 27 tractor-trailer-sized containers filled with over 154 tons of specifically-requested, life-saving medical supplies and equipment to needy hospitals in Haiti. We have supplied 83 medical mission teams with more than 14,000 pounds of medical supplies for treating the sick and injured in Haiti. We have also sent engineering teams to repair hundreds of pieces of medical equipment damaged by the earthquake and to train technicians from around the country to do the same. More information can be found at www.medshare.org/haiti.

What are the outcomes (immediate results) of your efforts in Haiti?

17 tractor-trailer sized shipments of medical supplies and equipment were sent by MedShare in the first two weeks following the earthquake. An additional 10 containers have been sent to aid in the recovery/rebuilding effort. These supplies and equipment were used by our vetted hospital and in-country charity partners like Partners in Health and Project Medishare to offer free medical services to thousands injured in the earthquake as well as basic services in its aftermath. MedShare’s engineering team travelled to Haiti and fixed hundreds of pieces of damaged equipment and trained technicians throughout the country. Please click on www.medshare.org/haiti for videos chronicling our impact.

Based on your outcomes thus far, has your charity adjusted its course of action to improve the results?

As the relief efforts have moved into a longer term recovery that is not happening as quickly as anyone would want, MedShare has sent teams to Haiti to streamline our already-successful logistics process, conduct a needs assessment at our in-country hospital partners and clinics and expedite customs clearances. The needs for medical supplies and equipment for a longer term recovery differ from those needed in an immediate relief effort. MedShare prides itself on customizing our shipments for the recipient and we take great care to understand their needs with the aim that nothing we sent is diverted or wasted. For more information on our ongoing efforts, click on www.medshare.org/haiti.

Is your charity planning to continue to provide assistance to Haiti in the coming months and years? If so, please explain your plans.

MedShare supported 36 projects in Haiti prior to the earthquake and we plan to continue to work with our in-country hospital and charity partners in the coming months and years. We have developed a good reputation among our partners in Haiti and want to be there for them as long as they need us. Donors can learn more at http://www.medshare.org/haiti. Donors can also click on http://www.medshare.org/shipments where they can view our interactive map of shipments to Haiti over our 11-year history.

What do you anticipate will be the biggest challenges facing the people of Haiti in the years to come? Do you have suggestions for how to address these challenges both via your own organization and through the efforts of others?

Haiti has long been the poorest country in the Western hemisphere and faces many challenges. The greatest needs in Haiti are a better resourced and more effective government, a completely rebuilt infrastructure (this was the case before the earthquake), and access to education, healthcare, and basic needs. In short, for Haiti to be successful in the long-term, a context for private investment and industry development must be created as has been done in other developing nations. MedShare can play a strong role in elevating the standards for medical care through the provision of medical supplies and equipment to support the re-building of the healthcare infrastructure.

Have you been able to coordinate and pool your efforts with other organizations?

MedShare is a supply chain organization providing medical supplies and equipment. Thus, we supply other direct-service organizations, hospitals and clinics in Haiti and around the world who offer healthcare to the poor. Some of our partners in Haiti include:

  • Partners In Health
  • St. Damien Pediatric Hospital
  • St. Nicholas Hospital
  • Hopital Bienfaisance de Pignon
  • Port-Au-Prince Triage Hospital
  • CURE Haiti
  • Family Outreach Ministries
  • Archdiocese of Port-Au-Prince
  • Haitian Timoun Foundation
  • CSI Ministries Clinic
  • Hopital Sacre Coeur
  • Grace Children’s Hospital
  • Adventist Hospital
  • Diquini Jimani Hospital (in Dominican Republic on Haitian boarder)
  • St. Francis de Sales Hospital
  • Project Medishare

We’d like to give a special thanks to Charity Navigator for highlighting us. To read their report in it’s entirety, click here.