When Kaiser Permanente clinicians volunteer worldwide, they’re often greeted by a unique type of ‘care package’: Surplus medical supplies that would be discarded in the United States but instead are used to save lives elsewhere.
This scenario is played out worldwide thanks to MedShare, a nonprofit organization working to improve health care and the environment by recovering and distributing tons of surplus medical supplies and equipment. MedShare gathers surplus and unused supplies and equipment and prepares it for use in safety net clinics in local communities and in hospitals and clinics in the developing world, where there is a tremendous shortage of vital medical supplies.
Since 2008, when MedShare opened its San Leandro, Calif. offices, Kaiser Permanente has been a key partner in providing the organization with surplus medical supplies and volunteer staff. Many Kaiser Permanente clinicians who have chronicled their volunteer work in this blog have relied upon MedShare for supplies and equipment they’ve used to aid impoverished populations in Africa and Asia. Some of the measures of MedShare’s impact include:
- MedShare has diverted over 2 million cubic feet of medical supplies out of landfills since it opened 15 years ago.
- MedShare has equipped more than 2,100 medical mission teams with 2.5 million tons of supplies from their MedTeam Stores.
- MedShare reaches 103 developing nations around the world.
- More than 700 Kaiser Permanente volunteers have worked with MedShare.
This video shows how it all comes together.