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…

MedShare and UPS Foundation Ship Container of Medical Relief to Pakistan

Pakistan

On Monday, May 2, 2011, a 40-foot container carrying medical relief aid for Pakistan was shipped from MedShare’s Southeastern Regional Distribution Center in Decatur, Georgia.

Over 9,000 lbs of medical supplies and equipment we included on the container, including:

  • ambu bags
  • emergency airways
  • bandages
  • surgical packs and instruments
  • needles
  • syringes
  • endotracheal tubes
  • blood pressure monitors
  • laryngoscopes
  • sphygmomanometers
  • an electrosurgical unit
  • a ventilator
  • and much more!

These donated items will be distributed by the NGO International Relief And Development (IRD) to local health facilities  in the flood-affected districts of Punjab Province.  According to www.pakistanfloodresponse.com, “Pakistan’s current flood zone is an area the size of England. The waters stretch the distance from St. Louis to New Orleans, and the disaster currently affects 20.4 million people: more than the combined number of people affected by the 2004 tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, the 2005 Pakistan earthquake, and the 2010 Haiti earthquake.”

MedShare is proud to support IRD’s flood relief efforts on the ground in Pakistan with this shipment of medical supplies and equipment. Our sincere thanks to the UPS Foundation for sponsoring this humanitarian project.

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.)

MedShare in the News

MedShare was recently featured on CNN.com, AJC.com, Georgia Health News, and WABE (Atlanta’s NPR station): below are links and descriptions to the hits. Enjoy!


The one-year anniversary of Haiti’s devastating earthquake was Wednesday, Jan. 12, and CNN.com ran a story on “Five Ways You Can Still Help in Haiti.” MedShare was included in the “Volunteer” section, along with a brief highlight on how we’ve responded thus far to the earthquake. To read more about our ongoing recovery efforts, click here.

In another story about Georgia’s ongoing recovery efforts in Haiti, The Atlanta-Journal Constitution featured MedShare. The story is called, “Georgians help Haiti, finds much needs to be done after quake,” and you can view it here.

Also, this past Saturday, January 8th, was Georgia Governor Deal’s “Day of Service,” an event aimed at bringing people together to give back to their communities across Georgia. MedShare was among the local charities, shelters, missions, food banks, and environmental agencies that was chosen to host volunteers, and we had about 40 volunteers give their time on Saturday. WABE (Atlanta’s NPR station) and GeorgiaHealthNews.com both featured stories on the event. To view photos on the event, you can visit MedShare’s Flickr page here.

What do you think of these articles? We’d love to hear your thoughts!