Over the past 15 years, MedShare has shipped more than 1,100 ocean containers filled with urgently needed medical supplies to 96 countries around the world. Emory Healthcare and Emory University have long served as major allies in helping MedShare accomplish its mission. Through Emory, MedShare has been able to connect with hundreds of volunteers willing to offer their time and expertise. Volunteers sort, inspect and pack unused and unexpired medical supplies, which are then shipped to hospitals and clinics in developing countries. In fact, Emory volunteers have contributed 1,739 hours in the past 18 months alone.
On Saturday, December 20, 2014, nurses from the Wound Ostomy and
Continence Nursing (WOCN) Department at Emory Healthcare went above and beyond a normal volunteer role. MedShare collects a large volume of ostomy supplies, but lacked the medical expertise to organize these items into detailed categories. This is an essential step for shipping supplies abroad. Doctors and nurses in the hospital will directly order the supplies they need from MedShare, ensuring they only get what is useful and necessary. Yet this can’t happen unless MedShare’s categories are exactly on point. By putting their specialized knowledge to work at MedShare’s southeast distribution center, Emory’s wound ostomy and continence nurses made this all possible.
Alvaro McRae, MedShare’s volunteer program manager, first spoke with Martha Tamblyn, RN, WOCN, about their department volunteering on Emory Cares Day. “She was very open to helping, and having her team involved with developing our ostomy sort was the perfect project,” said McRae. Martha then helped MedShare develop the 24 product classifications needed to sort our ostomy supplies.
The WOCN Department volunteer group, including Dorothy Doughty, Rose Murphree, Cynthia Timms and her two sons, were part of a three-hour Saturday session that sorted over 200 pounds of ostomy products at MedShare for the first time in three years, creating a blueprint for future ostomy product sorts. After the session, Dorothy Doughty, director of the WOC Nursing Education Center (WOCNEC), and Rose Murphree, WOCNEC’s program director, offered ideas how to make it easier for volunteers without a medical background to assist in future sorts of ostomy products, and how to box these particular supplies to enhance the quality of packaging for our partner hospitals and clinics around the world.
The team has already signed up for another volunteer shift in March to complete the ostomy sort they began in December. The Wound Ostomy & Continence Nursing team’s skills and expertise will be felt around the world as our partner hospital put these supplies to work treating patients and saving lives.