Millinocket ministry sends truckload of medical supplies to Haiti

Posted March 30, 2012, at 6:37 p.m.
Last modified March 30, 2012, at 7 p.m.

MILLINOCKET, Maine — A truckload of medical supplies donated by Millinocket Regional Hospital and other state care centers is on its way to Haiti thanks to I-Care Ministries, organizers said Friday.

A half-dozen volunteers loaded a 53-foot box trailer with medical supplies and used equipment at the church’s 45 Spring St. storefront for shipping to Soles-4-Souls in Cleveland, Tenn., for eventual shipment to Haiti, said the Rev. Herschel Hafford, the church’s pastor. The Caribbean nation was ravaged by an earthquake in January 2010.

The church, which previously has shipped shoes to Third World countries through Soles-4-Souls, collected items from Millinocket Regional, Northern Maine Medical Center in Fort Kent and Lincoln’s Health Access Network among other places, Hafford said.

“I thought it was amazing. That trailer box was more than two-thirds full,” Hafford said. “We didn’t pack it in tightly. If we did, we could have filled the whole thing. This is stuff we have been collecting for two or three years.”

The several hundred items eventually will be used at a Haitian medical center under construction. They include canes, crutches, bandages, intravenous tubes and larger pieces of equipment including hospital beds, X-ray lights and machines, scales and exam tables — still-usable items that had been phased out in favor of newer or more efficient equipment, Hafford said.

“It might be outdated for our country, but not for a Third World country,” Hafford said.

Cal Wilson, director of materials management at Millinocket Regional Hospital, said hospital CEO Marie Vienneau and the hospital’s other workers enjoy the idea of finding new life overseas for items that otherwise might have been wasted at a landfill here.

“We are very conscientious about helping when we can. She [Vienneau] is really good about that. We like doing it,” Wilson said. “We have clinicians who make sure that expired products get to me because they know that we will make sure that it gets to Herschel. There must be 30 or 40 people who make sure this happens.”

Millinocket Regional Hospital workers donated items that were listed as “expired” but were still quite usable. U.S. medical regulations require care providers to use nothing that might have deteriorated through age or lack of use, Wilson said.

He compared that practice to supermarkets selling dented cans of food at reduced prices.

Wilson and Millinocket Regional Hospital purchasing clerks Dora Kelly and Lynne Mackin periodically dropped off items at I-Care. They included wound-care equipment such as bandages, needles, medical sponges and syringes, plus several kinds of medical tubing, including catheters and IV start kits.

“Sometimes we don’t have stuff for him for two or weeks; sometimes we’re over there two or three times in a week,” Wilson said.

Monday’s delivery was the first of medical supplies I-Care has sent to Soles-4-Souls. Anyone interested in donating more items may telephone Hafford at 723-7977 or email Hdh_icm@hotmail.com.

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