Project C.U.R.E. surpasses yearly distribution goal
● By Richard Gaw
On the cold and damp morning of March 12, a ray of sunshine appeared in the form of a long transportation vehicle parked adjacent to the Project C.U.R.E.'s Mid-Atlantic distribution center in West Grove, that was beginning to be packed full of hope.
Throughout the morning, package by package, four Project C.U.R.E. volunteers filled the vehicle's long, dark cab with medical supplies that were scheduled to be delivered to support medical and surgeon mission work in Grenada two days later. The delivery, which took off from West Grove on March 14, was the ninth completed by the distribution center in the last fiscal year. A tenth delivery – to provide hospital, surgical and laboratory support for hospitals in Ghana -- is scheduled to depart the center on March 21, which will match the distribution goal the center set for the current fiscal year that ends on May 31.
During the last fiscal year, the center has already made deliveries to Nigeria, Ghana, Cuba, Mozambique, Suriname, the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as two trips to Armenia. As of its seventh distribution, the center had delivered $2.1 million worth of medical supplies in the current fiscal year.
“There is no point to collect all of this and have it sit in our warehouse,” said Kathy Hrenko, director of operations. “As our president and CEO Douglas Jackson says, 'We're not in the warehouse business. We are in the business of gathering valuable resources, getting them processed as quickly as possible, and getting them out.'”
Established in 1987 and headquartered in Denver, Colorado, Project C.U.R.E. is the world's largest distributor of medical donations to developing countries, and its West Grove location is one of six distribution centers across the United States. Working with hundreds of partners across the world, Project C.U.R.E. matches donated medical supplies with healthcare facilities in severely resource-limited communities to get much-needed materials into the hands of medical professionals in more than 130 countries, so that they can treat disease, deliver vaccines, perform surgeries and ensure safe childbirth.
During the 2016-17 fiscal year, Project C.U.R.E. made 139 shipments to 53 countries, delivering more than $57 million worth of medical supplies and equipment – 3.2 million pounds of usable medical surplus from U.S. hospitals and medical manufacturers – to health facilities in need.
Like every distribution made from the West Grove center, the supplies that were sent to Grenada were based on on a careful assessment of medical supply need.
“Typically, one of our assessors is asked to go to the site, whether it is a single hospital or multiple hospitals in a region,” said George Hatzfeld, the West Grove center's facility assessor who, along with his wife, has visited 25 countries and made 129 assessments. “Assessments are made, and it's the result of those assessments that informs a shipping list of supplies, as generated from our headquarters in Denver.”
Assessments, Hatzfeld said, have a three-fold impact.
“The first impact is to look our destination people in the eye and ask, 'Are you for real? Somebody wants to send some equipment and supplies. Is this where it's going to end up, or do you have an ulterior motive?'” he said. “We also assess the hospital and the community it serves. You can't just look at a hospital in isolation. You need to look at what the health needs of its community are. The assessor then has a broader role of figuring out the main health risks, how to address those health risks, and how we, with our distribution centers, will best be able to fill that need.”
It is also beneficial if an assessor has the connections to better assure the safe arrival of the supplies to their intended destination.
“If we're persistent and sometimes lucky, we get to meet the key people at that country's port of entry, so that they understand that there is a humanitarian aid package coming, and that it needs to go through the normal channels,” Hatzfeld said.
To learn more about Project C.U.R.E., visit www.projectcure.org. If you or your affiliation or organization would like to pursue volunteering at Project C.U.R.E.'s Mid-Atlantic distribution center in West Grove, call the center at 610-345-0410, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email email@example.com.