Giving back on MLK Day
We have a tradition of organizing a day of service to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. each January — and 2017 was no different.
This year’s service project was with MedShare, a wonderful organization that sources surplus medical supplies and delivers them to communities in need around the world. Most of what they receive is perfectly good, unexpired product that was destined for a landfill — boxes of gloves whose corners aren’t perfectly crisp, excess inventory of syringes, and medical supplies that were billed to insurance but weren’t used. MedShare takes this product, packages it up, puts it in inventory, and lets medical organizations from around the world order exactly which vital medical equipment they need.
23 Patientcoians showed up on a beautifully sunny Monday morning, ready to pitch in and make a difference! After learning a bit more about MedShare and our project, we heard a moving (and unfortunately, true) story from the MedShare Volunteer Coordinator. She told of a husband and his pregnant wife who walked for miles to reach the nearest hospital. They were told they could receive treatment — but only if they were able to provide their own medical supplies, as the hospital had none. The husband returned to his village and sold his livestock in order to purchase the necessary items. Upon returning to the hospital, he found that his wife and child had died on hospital floor. Unfortunately, this is all too common in the areas of the world that MedShare serves.
We spent 3 hours sorting and boxing medical supplies that, without MedShare, would have ended up in landfills. Our task was to take a hodge-podge mix of donated drapes, organize them, package them up, and place them into inventory. We never knew that there were so many kinds of drapes! We sorted through U-Drapes, C-Arm drapes, robotics surgical drapes, slush drapes, warming drapes, non-fenestrated small-procedure drapes, pediatric femoral angiography drapes, laparotomy drapes, laparoscopy drapes, endoscopy drapes…and the list goes on! We also sorted through our fair share of masks, gloves, and gauze that will no doubt be tremendously useful and appreciated upon receipt.
When all the dust settled (well, not much dust, since most of these items were surgically sterile…), Patientco alone filled 2 pallets with 111 boxes of medical supplies, destined for hospitals and clinics in Haiti, Malawi, Kenya, Nigeria and Cameroon.
We spent 3 hours sorting and boxing medical supplies that, without MedShare, would have ended up in landfills. Because of our efforts, we will potentially be saving lives around the world. We are concerned about each other as humans on this planet. As MLK Day 2017 came to a close, we remembered a quote from Dr. King: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is ‘What are you doing for others?’” At Patientco, our answer is that we Give Back.