Environmental Innovation Award for MedShare

MedShare received Acterra’s 2012 Business Environmental Award in the category of Environmental Innovation for their ground-breaking program to recycle surplus medical supplies and equipment.

Acterra’s Business Environmental Awards is one of the San Francisco Bay Area’s oldest and most prestigious environmental recognition programs. Initiated in 1990, it is considered a heavyweight among award programs due to its rigorous application and judging process. “Our awardees must demonstrate their environmental commitment and achievements through a careful vetting process,” states Committee Chair Laura Teksler. “In addition to a thorough written application, the top contenders must demonstrate their programs’ merits firsthand to the judges during a visit to the applicants’ facilities. By the time they are selected to receive our award, they have truly proven that their programs are “setting the bar” in corporate environmental leadership.”

MedShare Western Region Staff

MedShare was recognized for their efficient recovery and redistribution of surplus medical supplies and equipment that helps to improve the environment and healthcare for the medically underserved. As California’s first high-volume medical supply recycler, MedShare’s reuse program is changing the landscape of medical waste disposal in the State.

MedShare collects unused, unexpired surplus medical supplies and equipment from hospitals and medical distributors.  These are items that would be destined for landfills, but instead, MedShare redistributes them to needy hospitals in developing countries as well as community-based health clinics throughout California.

“MedShare continues to deliver innovative solutions for healthcare providers that want to green their operations and we are honored that our waste reduction efforts are being recognized by Acterra Business Environmental Awards,” said Chuck Haupt, Executive Director, MedShare’s Western Region. “In cooperation with leading hospitals and manufacturers we were able to divert an amazing 228 tons of surplus from local landfills in 2011.”

Acterra Award 2012

In Northern California, there are more than 30 hospitals participating in MedShare’s innovative Hospital Recovery Program, including Sutter Health, Kaiser Permanente, and Dignity Health.  These hospitals recognize the local environmental benefit that their contributions have, as well as the impact that they will have on people’s lives around the globe.

“In 14 years of operation as a national organization, MedShare has shipped over 800 forty-foot ocean containers of surplus medical supplies and equipment to hospitals in 93 developing nations,” said Meridith Rentz, MedShare’s CEO & President.  “This accounts for over two million cubic feet of landfill space saved.  We could not have achieved this level of impact without partnerships with forward-thinking health systems and manufacturers of medical supplies who are committed to operating in an environmentally sustainable manner.”


Volunteers: We Are Thankful

This is the time of year for reflection, thankfulness, and gratitude. What is MedShare thankful for? Many, many things, chief among those being our wonderful volunteers.

At MedShare, we’re lucky to host over 18,000 volunteers a year. These generous people and groups help us sort and box the 20,000 lbs of medical supplies that we collect weekly from our hospital and manufacturer partners. The sheer volume of work they provide for MedShare is incredible, and we don’t hesitate to say that our work wouldn’t be possible without them.

Today, we’d like to recognize these wonderful groups that have volunteered in our Western Region recently:

On November 30, 2011, this Kaiser Permanente group sorted 249 lbs and packed 3 boxes.

On December 2, 2011, this Triage group packed 18 boxes.

On Dec. 3, 2011, these Chinese Bible Church volunteers helped sort 1,190 lbs and pack 85 boxes.

On Dec. 3, 2011, Tierney's group helped sort 1,910 lbs and pack 85 boxes.

On Dec. 3, 2011, these DVHS Giving Tree volunteers helped sort 1,686 lbs and pack 50 boxes.

On Dec. 3, 2011, these Safeway volunteers helped sort 1,686 lbs and pack 50 boxes.

On Dec. 7, 2011, these Abbott Vascular volunteers sorted 430 lbs and packed 81 boxes.

On Dec. 8, 2011, this Kaiser Permanente group sorted catheters and packed 39 boxes.

On Dec. 9, 2011, this Kaiser Permanente group sorted 883 lbs and packed 68 boxes.

On Dec. 10, 2011, this Chinese Bible Church group sorted gloves and packed 57 boxes.

On Dec. 10, 2011, this Kaiser Permanente group sorted gloves and packed 29 boxes.

On Dec. 13, 2011, this Chevron group sorted IV supplies and packed 35 boxes.

If you’d like to sign up to volunteer, click here. Thanks again to everyone pictured here, and the many others who aren’t.

MedShare Celebrates 700th Container Shipment

MedShare staff, volunteers and supporters celebrate the 700th container shipment

On Friday, September 2nd, MedShare celebrated a milestone achievement: we shipped our 700th container of humanitarian aid. This shipment paid tribute to A.B. Short and Bob Freeman’s founding vision, and celebrated the success of our past 13 years, during which we’ve shipped over $93 million worth of medical supplies and equipment to 88 developing countries and territories around the world. In the process, over 2 million cubic feet of space has been saved from landfills, as well as millions of lives around the world.

The container was sent from our Western Region Distribution and Volunteer Center in Northern California, and will benefit beleaguered hospitals in Misrata, Libya.

Turn-out at the ceremony was fitting for an event of this magnitude: Mr. Homdi Soliman, Operation Director of HOPE International Relief & Development Agency and sponsor, Dr. Heshaam Fallah, a Libyan-American physician with Kaiser Permanente and project coordinator, the Chief Medical Officer from Sutter Health, Kaiser Permanente representatives, a Council Member from the City of San Leandro, MedShare Trustees and Regional Council members, and many of our volunteers were in attendance. Mr. Soliman and Dr. Fallah spoke about the grave healthcare situation in Libya, and Mary Bersot, Trustee and Western Region Council Chair, shared her appreciation to our staff and volunteers.

“It has been an exceptional experience working with MedShare and all their staff throughout the Libyan conflict. With their extraordinary service and vision, we were able to help save the lives of thousands of men, women, and children,” said Homdi Soliman, Operation Director of HOPE.

The container was sponsored by HOPE International Relief & Development Agency (USA)based out of Columbus, Ohio. I-GO Aid Foundation, based in Malta, Libya, will coordinate delivery of the supplies and equipment to hospitals in Libya. The 1,000 boxes of medical supplies we sent were supplemented with biomedical equipment and durable medical goods, including hospital beds, gurneys, exam lights, exam tables, a ventilator for pediatric and adult patients, surgical packs, syringes, gloves and oxygen masks. Hospitals throughout Libya are dealing with a humanitarian catastrophe, as they are running short on critically needed medical supplies. This marked the fourth shipment we’ve sent to hospitals in Libyacollaborating with these partners.

We must give credit where credit is due: MedShare wouldn’t be celebrating this milestone achievement were it not for our wonderful community. For those that support MedShare through your gift of time, in-kind or financial donations or community advocacy, we thank you for all that you do, and ask that you continue helping us bridge the gap between surplus and need. With your partnership, there is no limit to what we can achieve, and we look forward to celebrating our 1,000th, 2,500th, and 5,000th container shipments with you!

To view more photos of this shipment ceremony, click here.

This is an excerpt from September’s e-newsletter. To read more – including a letter from CEO Meridith Rentz and the story of a medical mission team in South Georgia – click here.

MedShare Celebrating 700th Humanitarian Aid Shipment with Formal Ceremony – Libyan Relief

MedShare to host a formal shipment ceremony for its 700th aid container to beleaguered hospitals in Libya on Friday, September 2nd.

For 13 years, award-winning nonprofit MedShare has bridged the gap between surplus and need by recovering and redistributing surplus medical supplies and equipment from hospitals and medical companies to needy health facilities around the world.  On September 2nd at 9:30 a.m., the organization will celebrate its 700th container shipment of humanitarian aid with a formal ceremony. The container will be sent to benefit beleaguered hospitals in Libya.

I-GO AID Foundation

The container is sponsored by HOPE International Relief & Development Agency (USA) based out of Columbus, Ohio. I-GO Aid Foundation, based in Malta, Libya, will be coordinating delivery of the supplies and equipment to hospitals in Libya. Among the over 1,000 medical supplies and equipment that will be sent are hospital beds, gurneys, exam lights, exam tables, a ventilator for pediatric and adult patients, surgical packs, syringes, gloves and oxygen masks. Hospitals throughout Libya are dealing with a humanitarian catastrophe, as they are running short on critically needed medical supplies.

“It has been an exceptional experience working with MedShare and all their staff throughout the Libyan conflict. With their extraordinary service and vision, we were able to help save the lives of thousands of men, women, and children,” said Homdi Soliman, Operation Director of HOPE.

In its 13-year history, MedShare has shipped over $93 million worth of medical supplies and equipment in 700 tractor-trailer size containers to 88 developing countries and territories around the world. In the process, the organization has saved over 2 million cubic feet of space from landfills, and millions of lives. This will be MedShare’s fourth shipment to hospitals in Libya collaborating with these partners.

“It’s truly remarkable what MedShare has accomplished over the past 13 years.  Our success is tied directly to the strategic partnerships that we have cultivated over the years,” said Meridith Rentz, CEO of MedShare. “We are proud to send over 1,000 medical items to those in Libya that have been dramatically impacted by the turmoil in that country.”

I-GO Aid Foundation is a nonprofit organization that delivers much needed medical and food supplies to the Libyan people, specifically those in cut-off coastal areas of the country. HOPE International Relief & Development Agency is an American non-profit, humanitarian organization dedicated to easing the hardships of the disadvantaged, displaced, and misfortunate people of the world through programs that provide food, shelter, education, and financial means and incentives to start small businesses and industries that could serve as permanent sources of income.

“I am driven by the simple desire to do anything I can to help the thousands of Libyans that are suffering every day,” said Dr. Heshaam Fallah, a Libyan-American physician with Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, CA and primary coordinator of MedShare’s four aid shipments to Libya.

The aid shipment ceremony offers a TV and photo opportunity for the media as MedShare celebrates the impact of their mission through the formal send-off of its 700th shipment of medical supplies and equipment.  The event is scheduled for Friday, September 2 at 9:30 a.m. at MedShare located at 2937 Alvarado St, San Leandro, Calif.

Kaiser Permanente IT Compliance Volunteer Group

On Saturday, April 2nd, volunteers from Kaiser Permanente IT Compliance dedicated their time sorting supplies at our facility in San Leandro, CA. This upbeat group did an incredible job, and we’re so thankful for wonderful volunteers like them.

Enjoy a few photos below:

The KP group

Happy KP volunteers sorting

KP sorters


Thanks for your support, Kaiser Permanente! For more info on how you can volunteer, click here.

The Ark Newspaper: Surplus Medical Supplies Make an Impact

Last week, MedShare was featured in The Ark Newspaper, a paper that serves the California towns Tiburon, Belvedere, and Strawberry. Two of our Western Regional Council members, Mary Bersot and Doug Grey, are from Tiburon, and they’re profiled in this article.

Take a moment to read the article:

Surplus Medical Supplies Make an Impact

By Ann Mizel

MedShare, a nonprofit organization ranked one of the most efficient charities in the United States by Charity Navigator, is making a huge difference in the lives of people around the world who have little access to quality healthcare, and two Tiburon residents, Mary Bersot and Dr. Douglas Grey, are deeply committed to the organization, serving on its national board.

Grey, who has retired from Kaiser Permanente as a vasular surgeon, remains at Kaiser as vice-chair, National Product Council, and is co-chair of the Technology Coordinating Group of Northern California as well as vice-chair of the Western Regional Council for MedShare. “MedShare is my second career,” he told The Ark.

Bersot, of Bersot Capital Management of Tiburon, is chair of MedShare’s Western Regional Council. “We collect usable medical surplus, except pharmaceuticals, from 29 California hospitals, including Marin General, and healthcare facilities that would otherwsie go into landfills adn incinerators and send the surplus to qualified healthcare facilites in the developing world,” Bersot explained.

The supplies sent abroad in 40-foot ocean containers of 1,000 boxes includes sutures, surgical instruments, IV sets, gloves, exam tables, stephescopes, wheelchair, sterilizers, infant incubators, blood pressure monitors and defibrillators. Qualified surplus medical supplies are also made available to free clinics in California and Georgia. (MedShare’s headquarters is in Decatur, Georgia, an Atlanta suburb.)

Grey’s focus is biomedical supplies – “anything that gets plugged in,” he said. “Either you reuse or throw out. MedShare’s biomedical engineer and technician restore and repair all donated equipment, so recipient hospitals are able to effectively operate the equipment they receive.”

MedShare, which has earned a Green Business certification, has become a passion for Grey, who sees “the magic of this,” when he speaks of MedShare, its efficient inventory system, fully screened recipients and contribution tot he environment.

Both Grey and Bersot emphasized the tremendous impact that can be made with even very few doanted supplies, and that for every $20,000 investment – the cost of sending one 12,000-pound container – $155,000 worth of desperated needed medical supplies and equipment will reach those in need. “We raised $20,000 in two months for a recent shipment to the Kingdom of Tongo,” said Bersot, who added that average tax-deductible donations are in the $50 to $100 range. “Our story is an easy story to tell.”

MedShare is able to keep overhead low because of its dedicated volunteers – 3,000 in the Bay Area – who work at MedShare’s distribution center in San Leandro, sorting and packaging donations by type, size and date of expiration. (Volunteers can sign up online.) Because of a huge outpouring of support from volunteers as well as donors right after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, MedShare was able to ship 27 containers to needy hospitals in that country.

Board members of MedShare make yearly trips abroad, so Bersot and Grey will be able to see firsthand some of their good work when they visit Kenya next year. “We see our work with MedShare as a way to reach out around the world, much like Peace Corps workers, but from afar,” said Bersot. Without being physically present, they are touching and saving lives every day.

To learn how you can help, visit MedShare’s website at www.medshare.org, contact Executive Director Chuck Haupt at chaupt@medshare.org, or call 510-567-7070.

Thanks to Mary, Doug, Ann Mizel, and Chuck Haupt for making this article come to fruition!

Patch.com: MedShare Makes Cutting-Edge Changes Globally and Locally

MedShare’s Western Region was featured in a a great article on Patch.com, and we wanted to share it here.

Patch.com is a community-specific news and information platform dedicated to providing comprehensive and trusted local coverage for individual towns and communities, and we were excited to work with their San Leandro branch on this. Enjoy!

MedShare Makes Cutting-Edge Changes Globally and Locally

By Jenna Humphreys

Inconspicuous among the business offices and supply warehouses of Alvarado Street, a small organization is making a big difference on a global scale.

MedShare ships basic, badly needed medical equipment to countries like Haiti, Ghana and Ecuador. In the process, it keeps hundreds of tons of unused medical equipment out of U.S. landfills.

MedShare's sorting area

MedShare has had a remarkable 12-year life, and the future looks just as promising. The company’s headquarters and its first distribution center opened in Atlanta, Georgia in 1998, and its second distribution center has been here in San Leandro for 2½ years. Medshare chose San Leandro for its proximity to the Port of Oakland, as well as the safe location for volunteers.

MedShare is on top of its game: I was contacted within minutes of sending an email, and was in the warehouse for a tour two hours later. The 32,000-square-foot space on Alvarado Street hosts a few modest offices, a volunteer center, and sorting and storage areas.

On the day I visited, the volunteer center was bustling with nursing students filling their community service requirements by sorting kits and supplies. The whole space had a jovial feel as they chatted and took pictures.

MedShare collects unused supplies from 29 hospitals and healthcare clinics in Northern California, including Kaiser, Sutter Health, and Catholic Healthcare West. Donated items include sutures, gloves, gauze, syringes and much more.

When supplies arrive at the Alvarado site, they go through a multi-step sorting process that results in about 50 categories. The supplies are then packaged and listed on MedShare’s online inventory site, where needy foreign hospitals and traveling medical teams can “shop” for supplies.

MedShare never ships expired goods. It also doesn’t process pharmaceuticals, but can provide information about companies that do.

MedShare has sent supplies to 85 countries, either directly to hospitals or through visiting medical teams. They have also provided $80,000 worth of supplies to 12 free health clinics in California, including the Davis Street Family Resource Center.

Chuck Haupt, Executive Director of MedShare’s western region, walked me through the impressive warehouse. Small cardboard boxes lined the 30-foot high shelves, each box containing a very specific type of supply, for example sterile, non-powdered surgical gloves, size seven.

As we walked through the aisles, the energy-saving motion sensor lights followed us. Haupt said this “leveraging [of] technology to be one of the most efficient organizations in the U.S.,” is just one way MedShare continues to be cutting edge, on both the humanitarian and the environmental front.

Last December, MedShare was recognized by CalRecycle, the state’s recycling authority, with one of its 2010 Waste Reduction Awards. The organization diverted 169 tons of surplus medical supplies last year that otherwise would have ended up in a landfill, Haupt said in a news release after winning the award.

The award was MedShare’s second from the agency. MedShare has also won numerous awards for its nonprofit work.

MedShare warehouse with donated medical equipment

Besides boxes of supplies, the organization’s warehouse has collections of portable ultrasound machines, EKG equipment and exam tables waiting for deployment. On my visit, we met one of the nine site staff members, the operations manager, who was pulling inventoried supplies from the shelves as part of a shipment that was leaving for Peru in a few days.

Even more impressive to me than the sheer volume of material moving through MedShare’s warehouse was the organization’s effort to help volunteers understand the difference they’re making, both for the people receiving medical aid, and the environment.

Haupt showed me a model clinic set up in the volunteer area that gives a tangible sense of what medical care is like in many parts of the world. Gloves and gauze hung from strings and nails, demonstrating the often-necessary practice of reusing such supplies.

MedShare’s donation multiplying magic

MedShare runs on donations and volunteer power. It currently receives no government aid, although private funders like Google have backed its work enthusiastically.

Medshare keeps its costs low and multiplies the donations it gets. According to Haupt, the nonprofit turns every $1 donation into over $7 of medical supplies provided abroad.

Many individuals, especially retirees, volunteer with MedShare, as well as groups from high schools, colleges and companies like Chevron, Cisco, Wells Fargo and Kaiser Permanente.

Volunteers can sign up online for one of two shifts: 9:00 a.m. – noon or 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Special sessions can also be scheduled for companies and large groups.

Toward the end of my tour, Haupt brought me to a display of pictures showing medical missions working in poor countries and disaster areas around the world.

Pointing to a photo of one middle-aged man with a large benign tumor on his neck, Haupt talked about the man’s life of ridicule, growing up as “that boy” who was different. The man’s tumor was surgically removed with supplies provided by MedShare, and he regained his dignity.

A human story found in a big idea makes it all tangible and meaningful. After hearing it, I signed up for a volunteer shift this month.

Despite the ample recognition MedShare has received for being a good volunteer organization and an eco-friendly nonprofit, Haupt still feels like MedShare is a “secret” and that not many locals know about the work it does.

Help get the secret out. One three-hour shift can give dignity and health back to someone in the world who needs and deserves it.

You can connect with Medshare through Facebook, Twitter and the organization’s blog. You can also view its work on Youtube, and flip through photos on its Flickr account.

Thanks to Jenna Humphreys for the wonderful article! Be sure to check out your local Patch.com site for great local news, and follow them on Twitter.