MedShare Supplies Benefiting Nejo Hospital, Ethiopia

“I am in this world to make a difference one soul at a time. To me, there is nothing better that I would rather spend my time on than helping the poor get access to medical care,” says registered nurse Kidist Bitew.

Men’s ward, 8+ beds to a room regardless of medical diagnosis

Kidist is a native of Nejo, Ethiopia, who visited MedShare’s Western Region Medical Team Store last October to pick up just over 50 pounds of medical supplies for Nejo Hospital, located 320 miles west of Ethiopia’s capital city Addis Ababa.

Nejo Hospital is the only one in the area serving more than 350,000 people. It has only four physicians: one surgeon and three general practitioners. There are eight patient beds per room regardless of the illness. Nejo Hospital has only two private rooms and they are reserved for TB patients. The majority of Nejo’s population lives on less than a dollar a day. Poverty, severe unemployment, and infant mortality are widespread. Patients travel 6-8 hours by foot to receive treatment from the hospital and they are often treated free of charge.

Opening MedShare boxes at Nejo Hospital

Kidist plans to return to Nejo each year. She is using her medical mission trips to establish long-term relationships with Nejo Hospital and the surrounding cities/health centers. Through education, she is teaching the community about prevention and/or reduction in the spread of malaria, TB and HIV/AIDs. Together, they have established a goal to reduce the spread of infectious disease by at least 25% by the year 2015.

Kidist is currently raising money to send a 40-foot container to Nejo. “For our third mission trip we are planning to ship a container filled with donated medical equipment and basic medications by July 2011. These items will include gloves, dressings, safety needles, fetal monitors, beds, mattresses, X-ray viewing light, ultrasound machines, anesthesia machine and X-ray machine, mosquito nets and other soft medical supplies.”

To contribute to her project, click here, and to learn more about our MedShare Medical Team Store, click here.

This is an excerpt from June’s e-newsletter. To read more – including a story of our oldest volunteer and how we’re supporting the world’s soon-to-be newest nation – click here.

Medical Missions in Quezon City, Philippines

A Servants of Mary sister and patients with medical supplies from MedShare

Quezon City, the most populous city in the Philippines, boasts not only warm weather year-round, but also an unfortunate problem with Tuberculosis. Tuberculosis, or TB, is an infectious disease caused by the “tubercle bacilli” bacteria which affect the lungs, and can also attack parts of the body such as bones, intestines, and kidneys.

Dr. Antonieta Inumerable, head of the Quezon City Health Department, says, “one third of the world population has TB infection and 1.9 million people die every year because of TB.” Among 22 countries with widely-known TB issues, the Philippines rank ninth, and averages 75 Filipino fatalities daily. TB ranks eight among the ten leading causes of illness in Quezon City, and sixth among the ten leading causes of death.

It was with this in mind that The Servants of Mary, a medical team who heard about MedShare from their local Wells Fargo Bank, have served in Quezon City for eight years. Spearheaded by Sr. Maria Del Carmen Voga, the Mother Superior of the Servants of Mary in Quezon City, a clinic was started in 2003 to provide free medical care. Their main focus, in addition to preventation and urgent care, is fighting TB. Last year, their clinic saw 16,237 patients, and gave TB meds to 430 patients.

Sr. Maria’s sister, Gladys, visited MedShare’s Western Region Medical Team Store last November to collect supplies for their clinic. The store offers medical mission teams a cost effective option for items they will need on their mission trips.  We are proud to help supply their mission and support the ongoing battle with TB.

Below are words of thanks and photos from the clinic:

On behalf of Servant of Mary in Quezon City, Philippines I want to thank you for all your generosity and help. Your help has been a blessing for the many needy families that we assist. I arrived in the Philippines on Oct 10 with your donated supplies. The Sisters and the community we serve want to say a Big Thank you to all of you.

Servant of Mary
Sor Maria del Carmen Vega

To learn more about our Medical Team Store, click here.

This is an excerpt from our April e-newsletter. To read more – including stories of MedShare’s environmental impact and a biomedical engineer volunteer – click here.

This Earth Day, MedShare Reaffirms Commitment to Environment

MedShare saved these supplies from ending up in a landfill

As the world comes together to celebrate Earth Day, MedShare is reaffirming our commitment to the environment. Our mission is to deliver medical supplies to underserved populations around the world while lessening the impact of medical waste in the United States, but did you know that we’ve taken great strides over the past few years to make our operations and warehouses more environmentally-friendly as well?

MedShare is funded by generous donors like you; as such, we’re ever mindful of our expenditures. With this in mind, our Southeast and Western facilities made changes to their facilities over the past few years. Both were outfitted with motion-activated lights, saving each facility from needlessly wasting energy, and the California location installed low-flow toilets. The Southeast, enabled by a grant from the Kendeda Fund and by partnering with Radiance Solar, will install a new roof, insulation and solar paneling. In addition to the positive impact of the environment, our efforts will also save money for each warehouse in the form of reduced power bills.

Below, Rob Oviatt, Operations Director (Southeast Region) and Chuck Haupt, Executive Director, Western Region comment on the environmental changes MedShare has implemented:

“In an attempt to reduce our energy consumption at our SE Distribution Center, we made some significant changes to our lighting system last September. We did away with our 400W metal halide lamps in our warehouse (37,000 square feet), and replaced their murky orange glow with the much brighter and far more efficient high-bay T5 high output fluorescent lamps. These new lamps are also fitted with motion detectors which turn them off after five minutes of inactivity in that area. We also replaced our aging 4-lamp T12 fixtures in our sort room (8000 square feet) with 3-lamp T8 fixtures, providing a much brighter work area. The effect of these lighting upgrades has been a reduction in our total energy consumption by about a third.

Currently, we are also having a 30 kW solar installation placed on our roof. This system should further reduce our energy consumption (from the grid) to the point where we will require less than half of the energy we were consuming before the upgrades.

As for future plans, we are exploring the possibility of expanding the capacity of this solar installation, possibly upgrading our HVAC system, and will be performing smaller upgrades like a tankless water heater, low volume toilets, and motion detectors on office lighting.”

-Rob Oviatt, Operations Director, Southeast Region

“In 2010 we completed an intensive year-long effort to obtain certification as a Green Business. As California’s first large-scale recycler of surplus medical supplies, we were asking hospital in our community to change their business practices and to embark on new green initiatives with us. It seemed most appropriate that MedShare itself should also be a strong environmental steward. To that end, we implemented scores of new practices including; elimination of bottled water, paper plates and cups, use of duplex printing to reduce paper consumption, and conserving water with the installation of new low-flow toilets. The most significant part of our certification required us to replace every single light in our 32,000 sq. ft. warehouse. We moved from high energy-use metal halide lights to compact fluorescent lights with occupancy sensors to conserve energy. Our whole staff is proud of what we have accomplished and we share these new practices with the thousands of visitors we host each year.”

-Chuck Haupt, Executive Director, Western Region

MedShare’s Green Impact – By the Numbers:

  • In our 12-year history, MedShare has saved 1,766,240 cubic feet of medical supplies from ending up in landfills and incinerators.
  • In FY 2010 alone, 313,120 cubic feet of landfill space was saved.
  • MedShare’s supply and recovery efforts each year save approximately 535,000 lbs. of CO2, equal to almost 554,000 miles driven; and 1.8 million kwh, equal to 150 household’s annual electricity.

What can you do to help our green efforts and celebrate Earth Day? Consider donating Boxes of Hope. You’ll not only save medical products from ending up in local landfills, but you’ll also save lives around the world. These boxes contain vitally needed items like syringes, sterile gloves and gowns, labor and delivery kits, biopsy kits, and surgical kits. Your support will help us by providing these otherwise-scarce items to benefit the poor in developing countries. A box of medical supplies – which you can sponsor in quantities of two to 1,000 – will make a difference.

This is an excerpt from our April e-newsletter. To read more – including stories of a biomedical volunteer and a medical mission that we support in the Philippines – click here.

Volunteer Spotlight: Russ Wallace

Russ Wallace

Russ Wallace

This month’s spotlight is on Russ Wallace, a volunteer in our Southeast Region that was introduced to MedShare over a year ago by his wife Tish. Like many of our volunteers, Russ has gone above and beyond for MedShare. A retired neurologist who has been involved with Honduras Outreach for the past 16 years, Russ’ hobby is woodworking. When he heard during a sorting session a few weeks ago that our tables could use an update, he put those skills to great use. Thanks to Russ’ work, the once short and wobbly tables are now sturdier, taller, and have a ledge on the side to prevent items from falling off. He was assisted by Steve Bishop, a long-time friend and fellow member of Holy Trinity Church. From all the staff and volunteers (whose backs no longer ache), thank you!

Name: Russell W. Wallace Jr., MD (likes to be known now as simply Russ)

Age and Occupation: 76 years old. I am a neurologist and retired from clinical practice 10 years ago. I now work part time as a medical consultant for Social Security Disability in Stone Mountain.

Hometown: Decatur, GA

Please describe yourself in one sentence. Tish, his wife, says, “Russ is a nice guy!”

When did you first hear about MedShare? Through my wife Tish, who has been volunteering for some time now.

How would you describe your volunteer experience at MedShare?
My experience has been rewarding. I like wood working projects and when I found out from Tish and David that there was a need to redo and make more tables for the volunteers to sort medical supplies upon, I became interested.

How long have you been volunteering at MedShare?
Only since the first of the year.

What inspired you to get involved?
Heard of a need and have the ability to meet it.

What has been your favorite MedShare moment or story during your time serving with us? When I made the second trip to deliver the 3rd and 4th tables, I learned the table we had delivered earlier really were what was needed and folks did not have backaches from standing over tables too low for most adults.

This story is an excerpt from our March e-newsletter. Click here to read the entire newsletter, featuring stories of a medical mission team in Ethiopia and MedShare’s service to women in honor of International Women’s Day.

Volunteer Deborah Printz Leaves MedShare Legacy

MedShare Volunteer Deborah Printz

This month’s volunteer spotlight is on Deborah Printz, one of MedShare’s longest serving and most dedicated volunteers who passed away last month following a brave fight against cancer.

Born in Massachusetts, Deborah earned her Ph.D. from Duke University (where she also met her husband), and after a brief stint in New Orleans, the young family moved to Atlanta in 1971. A mom to eight children, and grandmother to one, Deborah taught biology, chemistry, and physics at various schools throughout the years – and yet still found the time to volunteer. Deborah believed her purpose was to do God’s work in the world, and she lived as a testament to her faith, always putting others above herself and wholeheartedly dedicating herself to her community.
Deborah touched lives in many ways: she started and led support groups for young mothers in the churches she attended over the years, visited unwed mothers in the neonatal unit at Crawford Long, taught Sunday School, started and led Bible study groups for many years, and visited nursing homes, often inviting friends from the home to Thanksgiving dinners with her family. At the age of 62, she organized and took a mission trip with two of her daughters to Natondome Village in Mbale, Uganda, where she led a teacher training workshop. Her family later joined together to make a contribution to the village that allowed them to refurbish their spring, providing the local residents with much-needed clean water.
MedShare was lucky to have Deborah as a volunteer for most of its history. She was so committed, in fact, that she put in over 2,000 hours. She was vital to establishing the Wednesday volunteer group in the Southeast location with her loving care to welcome and teach new members, and also helped start and maintain MedShare’s surgical steel instrument sorting program. Deborah was amazed at the amount of waste that went on in the medical arena, and liked taking an active role in getting supplies to those in need.
According to A.B. Short, CEO and Co-Founder, “MedShare’s growth and development stands on the shoulders of many individuals, and Deborah has been a key player. She has influenced how our product is sorted nationwide and without people like Deborah, MedShare would not be in the position it is today with a model that can be replicated throughout the U.S.” Deborah’s role and spirit will continue to touch MedShare for years to come.
In her last year of volunteering, Deborah’s daughter Preetam often joined her to sort medical supplies. Preetam said, “I treasure the precious time I was able to spend with her volunteering at MedShare over the last year, to see her passion in action, doing what she loved.”
To recognize Deborah’s valuable service, MedShare will be establishing an annual award in her honor. The “Deborah Printz Award” will be MedShare’s highest honor for volunteer services in the Southeastern Region for the person who gives the most volunteer hours in a year, and it will be given to an individual that mirrors Deborah’s dedication to improving the lives of others and exemplifies the sacrifice for those in need that she so wholeheartedly set out.
MedShare believes Deborah had a special place in her heart for the organization, and the sentiment is certainly echoed. Although she is missed by her family, fellow volunteers and MedShare staff, her passion and dedication to the betterment of humanity will endure.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on either Deborah or your volunteer experience in general:  Has it changed you? Did you meet someone special? Would you  like to nominate someone for our monthly Volunteer Spotlight? Please share!

(This story is an excerpt from our January e-newsletter. To read the entire newsletter – featuring stories of 2010 in review and our trip to Ghana – click here.)