MedShare: Supplying health care to communities in need

MedShare is a non-profit organization that is dedicated towards improving healthcare throughout the world. They directly deliver medical supplies and equipment to underserved communities and provide biomedical equipment training to healthcare providers serving these communities. They also send medical mission teams and supplies to disaster relief organizations, particularly when large natural disasters occur.

This past Thursday, we visited the MedShare San Leandro site. We met Shana Hassol (Development Associate) and Steve Hamel (Volunteer), and they gave us a tour of the facilities. We saw volunteers sorting out donated supplies and packaging boxes to be sent to underserved communities. There was also an organization system where supplies are sorted into different medical categories, such as IV and respiratory. We continued onto their warehouse which contained bigger medical devices, such as gurneys and incubators. We were impressed with their organization and supply abundance.

Supplies from hospitals, clinics, and other medical facilities that were organized by MedShare.

Besides giving us a tour, Steve and Shaina also elaborated on the process by which MedShare distributes supplies. Medical facilities in underserved communities are able to order supplies online from MedShare so that they can be processed quickly. They also elucidated on some of their methods to make the process more efficient. For instance, they mentioned how they keep track of supplies that are more popular, such as sterile gloves and gauze, to make sure those supplies are abundant. They’re also mindful of expiration dates to make sure supplies that are sent have ample time before they expire. Their methodical approach in optimizing their process was unforeseen in many non-profit service organizations.

After the tour, Steve took us into the biomedical lab facility. We then split into teams of two in which we researched biomedical devices that posed various problems for MedShare to learn about their functionality and usefulness for underserved communities. After presenting our findings, Steve explained the complications in sending biomedical devices. Many devices are hard to ship overseas, lack instruction manuals on how to use them, have limited language capacities, are missing expensive parts, or have mechanical or electrical issues that are impossible or expensive to fix. Many of us had never thought of these issues regarding big medical devices, and were surprised to learn of the deep thought process behind sending out these products.

After this session, Steve took all of us to lunch at Drake’s Brewing Co. The food was amazing, and we had the chance to talk to Steve about his experiences leading up to MedShare and his thoughts on the disparities of health care globally. Overall, this experience has been interesting and eye-opening, and we all hope to someday visit this organization again!

BIE posing in front of the MedShare poster at the San Leandro office.