CEO Corner: “We Must Continue to do More”

Meridith Rentz, MedShare CEO

Dear friends,

During my first month here at MedShare, I enjoyed spending quality time in each of our current distribution and volunteer centers (Atlanta, GA and San Francisco Bay Area) as well as those regions where we are evaluating expansion including the Mid-Atlantic (to include New York City, Baltimore, and Philadelphia) and South Florida (to include Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, and Boca Raton).

Everywhere I go, the message from our donors, partners, volunteers, staff, Board and council members is brilliantly consistent as they share with me stories of the amazing work MedShare has done for a country, hospital, clinic or project about which they care deeply. They all express great admiration and gratitude for the unique MedShare model that A.B. Short and Bob Freeman created 13 years ago….and they all convey with great urgency that we must continue to do more. The world needs “more” of what this MedShare team delivers.

The MedShare Board and staff have heard this plea for “more,” and we are working to respond in partnership with strong leadership groups in both the Mid-Atlantic and South Florida regions. Dan Goldberg is leading our efforts in South Florida and has joined the MedShare Board. Sandy Tytel, Chair of our New York Council, and Seth Zachary, Trustee, are leading up a great group of Council members in New York. While we have much work ahead of us, there are already great things happening. For example, over the past few weeks we have received several hundred quality hospital beds from North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System. From Ghana to Ecuador and beyond, many of our worthy recipients lack adequate hospital beds; this donation will help MedShare meet those needs. We look forward to continuing this strong partnership with North Shore LIJ and building additional new relationships with health care facilities and suppliers in both markets.

There are many ways you can help us as we develop our plan for these new regions. Whenever MedShare is invited into a new region, we must develop strong partnership with local hospitals, medical supply manufacturers and distributors, volunteers, donors, and other nonprofit organizations. If you have ideas or recommendations of people or organizations we should contact in any either South Florida or the Mid-Atlantic, please send them our way. You can reach me at mrentz@medshare.org or via Twitter @mrentz.

We also have several fun events coming up to “introduce” MedShare to the community in Boca Raton (October 26th at SPIN Ultra Lounge featuring The Beach Boys) and New York City (December 8th, The University Club, 6:15 cocktails, 7:30 dinner). We’d love for you to join us.

Thank you for your support and feedback as we work to provide expanded MedShare services in order to save more lives and support more communities.

In Service,

Meridith

This letter is an excerpt from our October e-newsletter. For more – including a first-hand account of a Trustee’s trip to NYC, our Clinton Global Initiative Commitment with icddr,b and Americares to strengthen health systems in Bangladesh, and how to get your family and friends involved – click here.

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Medical Mission to South Georgia Serves Farm Workers

Imagine working in dusty fields, day after day, doing the sort of backbreaking work that wears a body down. You have trouble speaking English, and your living situation leaves something to be desired. Now imagine that not only are you dealing with a nagging sore on your hand that won’t heal, but your child has a cold that won’t go away. With no insurance or healthcare provider to speak of, your options seem limited.

Enter the Family Farm Worker Health Program, a two-week intensive immersion learning experience that provides healthcare to migrant and seasonal farm workers and their families in South Georgia each year. You now have hope.

Emory University School of Nursing student treats patients

Students from schools across the state of Georgia participate, including Emory University’s Nell Hodgson School of Nursing. The initiative, now in its 18th year, treated approximately 600 individuals during their June 12 – 24 mission trip this year.

MedShare is proud to support this program by providing medical supplies to Emory’s team through our Medical Mission Team Store. For a small donation, individuals can collect much-needed medical supplies for their mission trips; available supplies include sutures, gowns, gloves, gauze, and much more. In MedShare’s 13-year history, we’ve supported over 2,100 such teams.

Carrie White, an Emory University nursing student who participated in this year’s Familiy Farm Worker Health Program, kindly sent us her account of the trip:

“Two weeks down South have come and gone. It is hard to imagine that in two weeks time, we saw around 250 kids and 350 adults. Approximately 600 individuals received medical attention that otherwise wouldn’t have through the Family Migrant Farm Worker Program in Moultrie, GA. The Migrant Farm Worker Program, coordinated through Emory’s School of Nursing, would not be possible without the generous donations from our partners like MedShare.

Basic supplies such as lancets, clean needles, gauze and alcohol pads are something we take for granted in the hospital setting. In the community setting, on the other hand, resources are often scarce. With MedShare’s donations of medical supplies through their Medical Mission Team Store program, we were able to provide our patients in the migrant fields with basic health screenings such as testing their blood sugar and iron levels. We were able to assess their blood pressure, height and weight, and provide health promotion activities. Primary care for pertinent health issues among the migrant workers were treated more easily thanks to MedShare.

To see health disparities that are associated with living in a third-world country just hours from Atlanta, GA is something I feel one can never really prepare for. In fact, I believe nothing can truly prepare you for the world you step in the moment you drive down those dirt roads, or hold the hand of a small child who came with their migrant worker family. The experiences and education we gained during our two weeks in Moultrie, GA is an invaluable adjunct to any classroom setting that discusses community health.

The undergraduate nursing students who went to Moultrie, GA this summer were truly humbled by the experience. We were also amazed at the amount of medical supplies wasted by hospitals in the Atlanta area. We were so happy to put these supplies to good use in South Georgia, and we thank you MedShare for their continued support in our education and experiential training. It is through these interactions and opportunities, that we learn the true value of nursing and serving the needs of others in the humblest of settings.”

If you would like to learn more about MedShare’s Medical Mission Team Store, click here.

This is an excerpt from September’s e-newsletter. To read more – including a letter from CEO Meridith Rentz and our 700th container shipment celebration – click here.

A Letter from Meridith Rentz, MedShare’s CEO

Meridith Rentz, MedShare CEO

Hello Friends,

It’s officially been two weeks since I joined the MedShare team, and I am honored and thrilled to be writing to you. With each day that passes, I continue to be amazed by the passion and commitment that all members of the MedShare family have for our extraordinary mission.

Balancing this feeling of exuberance, I find myself to be in a particularly reflective mode with the recent passing of the 10th anniversary of 9/11, a day that touched all of us in a tragic, and in some cases, life-changing way. My almost 10-year-old son was born a few weeks after September 11th, 2001. As I was watching him play soccer recently, I thought about how much he has grown and changed over the past 10 years – it’s a dramatic difference.

Have these same ten years made a difference in our collective communities, too? I do believe that as individuals and groups, we have grown and changed since the tragic events of ten years ago that drew our nation together in a collective holding of breath and sense of loss, followed by intense pride and action.

Are we a nation that cares more? Are we a nation that takes action more? Are we a nation that works harder to find practical solutions to issues of social justice?

For the most part, the answers are a complex combination of yes, no, maybe, it depends, and sometimes.

But then I look at you – the supporters of MedShare’s mission – and the answers are crystal clear. You care. You take action. You’re not afraid of complex challenges. You want to improve this world of ours in practical, life-saving ways. The clarity of your support is what fuels the power of MedShare. Your contributions – be it the gift of your time, your voice, your financial support or your in-kind donations – make all the difference, every day to people across the globe.

Your support enabled MedShare to ship its 700th container just two weeks ago. The supplies on this container will support urgent humanitarian needs throughout Libya. Consider the impact that 700th container and the 699 before it (with their $93 million worth of medical supplies and equipment) have had on the people living in 88 recipient countries – it truly takes your breath away.

And then – once you catch your breath – it’s easy to lose it again when you consider the significant work ahead of us. According to Healthcare Without Harm, U.S. hospitals generate more than two million tons of medical waste each year. Much of that waste is unused medical supplies and equipment. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization estimates that more than 10 million children under the age of five die in the developing world due to inadequate medical care.

We must take a deep breath and then we must carefully pursue opportunities to expand the impact and sustainability of MedShare’s unique model of gathering suppliesmatching needs and improving health. We can and must continue to work in partnership with the communities we serve as well as individuals, corporations, foundations, and other nonprofits working to achieve our ambitious goals. We must care more. We must take more action. We must redouble our efforts to take on complex challenges. We must do all of this to save lives and improve health infrastructure in the developing world, and reduce our incredible environmental impact in our own communities.

I am excited to work in partnership with each of you over the coming weeks, months and years to bridge the gap between surplus and need. It is an honor and a privilege to follow in the footsteps of MedShare’s amazing co-founder and former CEO, A.B. Short. I am also delighted that A.B. has accepted my request that he stay on at MedShare as Senior Advisor to the CEO to support this leadership transition and continue to contribute his tremendous entrepreneurial skills to our growth endeavors.

I promise each of you that I will do my best every day to keep up with you in your advancement of our mission and to ensure MedShare continues to merit your invaluable support. I welcome your ideas, questions or concerns. You can reach me any time at mrentz@medshare.org or via Twitter @mrentz.

In service,

Meridith

This is an excerpt from September’s e-newsletter. To read more – including a story of a medical mission team in South Georgia and our 700th container shipment celebration – click here.