Hospital Supply Distribution Project

Eugene Southtowne Rotary’s hospital supply distribution project started a decade ago when a charter member, Lauren Alexander, persuaded PeaceHealth Hospital at Riverbend to donate used and surplus medical equipment and supplies to Rotary rather than disposing of them in other ways. Since then, this project has grown in significant ways. Initially, Lauren partnered with other Rotary clubs and local charities to find “homes” in developing countries for durable equipment like hospital beds, tray tables, IV poles, exam tables and related items, and disposable supplies like needles, bandages, IV supplies, catheters, drapes, PPE, and similar items. He used donated space, even an old truck trailer, to house the donated equipment and supplies prior to its distribution by shipping containers, mailed cargo boxes and carry-on suitcases accompanying personnel on medical missions.

A decade on, the project’s structure has evolved. It now operates as a partnership between Eugene Southtowne Rotary and CardioStart International. CardioStart is an international humanitarian healthcare organization working to fulfill it mission “to educate and assist local medical teams in providing heart surgery and cardiac services to adults and children in underserved regions of the world.” CardioStart organizes and implements medical missions to 31 countries in Africa, Central and South America, the Caribbean and South Asia. Its on-the-ground experience in these counties helps with the identification of recipient organizations for the project’s donations, including the determination of their specific needs and capabilities. Within Eugene Southtowne Rotary, the leadership of the project has shifted over the years. Its current co-chairs are John Pfanner and Ted Stevens.

At present, medical equipment and supplies are picked up weekly from PeaceHealth and every couple of months from McKenzie-Willamette Hospital. Other hospitals and medical clinics in western Oregon donate occasionally. The project utilizes two warehouses to sort and prepare for shipment collected items, one in west Eugene donated to the project by St. Vincent de Paul Society and another in the Gateway area of Springfield donated by a local business owner. It ships out between two and four shipping containers of equipment and supplies each year. Recent shipments have gone to the Dominican Republic, Nigeria and Tanzania. Smaller distributions by cargo boxes have gone to the Philippines, and some equipment and supplies have been given to local humanitarian organizations providing health care services to local citizens in need.

Volunteers provide all of the labor for this project. In addition to Southtowne members, other volunteers include retired medical personnels, South Eugene High School Interact Club members, and CardioStart supporters. A group of six dedicated volunteers collect, sort and package donated supplies. Then, when the project needs to load a 40′ shipping container, as many as 20 volunteers are recruited to load the equipment and hundreds of boxes of disposable supplies.

In terms of Rotary International’s areas of focus, this project addresses both health and environmental issues. It moves available medical equipment and supplies to places where they are needed in the world and it keeps tons of equipment and supplies out of landfills. If you want to get involved in this amazing project, please contact one of its Southtowne co-chairs. John at 541-852-3529 or Ted at 541-525-6006.