Monday, September 19, 2005

REMEDY: Has The Cure

When I saw the long list of newspaper and magazine articles that have been written about REMEDY (Recovered Medical Equipment For The Developing World) [Don't ask me where they get the "Y"] - anyway, when I saw the long list of articles, I felt kind of silly starting out to write this blog aticle. But then, when I looked at the dates on the articles, most of them were written in the nineties, so, you might not know about these guys.

I have told you about MedShare , MedWorld , Global Links and The International Medical Equipment Collaborative , and this is about another great effort to get "retired" medical supplies and equipment to the developing world where they are needed.

REMEDY was founded in 1991 by William H. Rosenblatt, MD, Professor of Anesthesiology at Yale University School of Medicine. The organization is comprised of a group of health care professionals and others who promote the nationwide practice of recovery of open-but-unused surgical supplies. The end goal of their mission has been to provide international medical relief while reducing solid medical waste from US hospitals.

Dr. Rosenblatt had been participating in volunteer medical mission trips to various Latin American hospitals and the process that became REMEDY was conceived as a means to collect surgical supplies for use in on those trips. During his volunteer service in Latin America Dr. Rosenblatt gained an appreciation for the critical shortages of supplies in developing nations and became much more aware of the overabundance of these same supplies in US hospitals. He also learned that there is a tremendous amount of unused, but clean, supplies that are disposed by U.S. hospitals.

Materials such as gloves, sutures, drapes, gowns and many other items prepared but not used during a medical procedure are discarded because they are considered "un-sterile" even if there has been absolutely no contact with the patient. As I have pointed out in the articles about the other organizations that rescue medical supplies, due to legal concerns, these unused supplies are unusable in the U.S., but they can be the foundation of life saving health services throughout the developing world where they are delivered by many U.S.-based charitable organizations.

For years, and at many hospitals, individual healthcare workers have voluntarily collected supplies for charitable use. But the organized efforts of the hospitals themselves can recover a much larger quantity of this surplus.

The Yale-New Haven Hospital in New Haven, CT has a recovery program that served as the pilot project for REMEDY that was the subject of studies conducted by Dr. Rosenblatt in collaboration with Dr. David Silverman. The study of these two doctors demonstrated the efficacy, cost-effectiveness, environmental ramifications, and usefulness of supplies recovered through the REMEDY program.

Once this study was published, medical professionals from across the U.S. began to make inquiries about the program. And because of this enthusiastic response, REMEDY became a non-profit organization committed to teaching and promoting the recovery of surplus operating room supplies. Drs. Rosenblatt and Silverman developed a "comprehensive In-service Teaching Packet with information needed to start a standardized recovery program based on the REMEDY model, applicable to any surgical procedure in any hospital in the U.S. Proven recovery protocols were designed to be quickly adapted to the everyday operating room or critical care routine".

The Teaching Packet is distributed free of charge to any hospital that requests it

I am not going to brag about the university where I studied law, but these guys are on the right track. They say: "Rather than reinvent the wheel, REMEDY suggests turning to the huge network of U.S.-based non-profit medical charities to form partnerships."

I constantly receive enquiries from non-profits and sometimes even embassies of developing nations asking how can they get support for enhancing the quality of care in one country or another. Well, this is one way to start.

Now, not all of the non-profit organizations concerned with health care delivery in developing nations have the "staff, knowledge, experience, funding and contacts overseas to successfully deliver these recovered supplies to medical professionals serving populations in need," that is indicated by the RECOVERY web site. But there are plenty of good and efficient non-profits that do have those capabilities.

And if I may take a moment to speak to those non-profit groups that do not have this capability to effectively carry out such a program. You can get assistance in order to develop that capacity. You can do this by partnering with larger more capable non-profit organizations in order to work on a particular clinic, or hospital in a developing nation; or you can visit some of the sites on the Internet designed to provide technical and management assistance to non-profits. In the alternative, you can contact the embassies of nations that you would like to help, and they can put you in touch with the Diaspora of that nation that can be a base of support for such a project. Or you may be able to work directly with the embassy. What REMEDY has done for you is provide you with a tool with which you can approach a hospital and make the argument that they should start a program to help the nation you want to support. If any of my non-profit organization friends do not get what I am saying, email me. And we can go over it one on one.

Now, I would like to take another moment to speak to my friends in the various embassies that are looking for help for health care delivery in their countries. Quite often there are groups that you know that want to provide your nation with some charitable relief. There are groups out there having fundraisers, selling raffle tickets and conducting concerts so that you can buy medical supplies. In the Washington area alone, there are enough hospitals to provide many of the developing nations with rescued medical supplies. Why not have these volunteer groups talk to hospitals about starting a REMEDY program for your country (or for a specific hospital or health care facility in your country).

As usual, I am running out of time (or rather space) for my "short" article but I want to take a brief moment to address the hospitals and medical professionals that read this blog.

As of June, 2004, the REMEDY at Yale program alone had donated over 30 tons of medical supplies! And they estimate that at least $200 million worth of supplies could be recovered from U.S. hospitals each year (just from operating rooms alone)! If these recovered supplies were sent to the developing world, they would increase the amount of that medical aid to those contries by 50%.

In terms of a hospital's "Enlightened Self Interest, a REMEDY program can:

- Promote Hospital Waste Source Reduction.
- Be Cost-Effective.
- Promote Volunteerism.
- Improve Staff Morale
- Promote Inter-Departmental Teamwork
- Improve the Hospital's Public Relations/Community Image

Not to mention the fact that with "supply recovery and the promotion of a system of donating millions of dollars worth of clean, unused medical supplies, REMEDY programs aid U.S. based charitable organizations with our mission of providing improved basic and advanced medical care in the developing world.

"More than $200,000,000 of these materials are discarded by hospitals in the United States each year. Most of these same materials are unavailable at any price in much of the developing world. By promoting a link between these two opposing situations, millions of persons worldwide can be served."

The Mission Statement of REMEDY is that it is "a 501 {c}{3} not-for-profit organization dedicated to actively promoting the recovery of unused medical supplies for the purpose of global aid, waste reduction, and cost-effectiveness."

They seek to inspire and serve as a catalyst through education, practice and example.

They are committed to cooperation with other charitable organizations engaged in similar activities. And they want you to know that by working together, we can more efficiently and reliably respond to those in need.

Look, I am throwing away pages of about REMEDY here because I don't have any more time or space to write about this great organization, so you are going to have to do what I always ask you to do; and that is: Visit Their Web Site.

It's a treasure trove of information if you are interested in providing medical supplies to the developing world.

I know I'll be visiting their web site in the future, and I'll be dragging some hospitals and non-profit organizations along with me.

You can easily find their web site; it is right Here. REMEDY .

No comments: