Sutures, exam gloves and other medical supplies that are common in the United States can be luxury items in impoverished third-world countries. Life-saving surgeries may be cancelled in some areas of the
world because there are no sutures or the needed supplies. It’s hard to imagine a physician washing and patching exam gloves so they can be reused.
Purchasing Associate Della Alleven leads efforts to put unused supplies in the hands of doctors and nurses who can use them.
In partnership with the Sisters of St. Francis, which operates a mission warehouse in Independence, Della coordinates items from NKCH which are then shipped overseas to areas in need, like Africa.
Donations can include expired supplies, unused items from surgical packs and supplies no longer stocked by the hospital. Previous contributions have included mattresses and medical equipment.
“It’s my passion to give as many supplies as possible to doctors and nurses who need them and also lessen the hospital’s expense for trash removal,” says Della, who relies on departments, such as Surgery, to collect the items. It’s a team effort as volunteer Wayne Alsup packages the supplies, Engineering staff provides the storage space, and Storeroom personnel help move the items.
Surgery Team Leader Cindy Davis, BSN, CNOR, is one of several nurses who visits the Sisters of St. Francis warehouse to help volunteers learn the functionality of donated items. “This organization is great about finding uses for everything,” Cindy says.
Each month, the group handles an average of 20 tons of medical equipment and supplies from nearly 50 metro organizations. “Without these donations, we can’t operate,” says Paul Wilson, warehouse manager for the Sisters of St. Francis. “It makes us feel good that we are able to help people,” adds Della. Della encourages all departments to think twice before putting unused items in the trash.
From Hospital to Table
Some families will sleep better tonight thanks to the hospital’s food donation to Harvesters, the local community food network. Several times each month the Harvesters truck travels to NKCH to pick up
donated food from Food and Nutrition Services. Since July 2014, the hospital has donated more than 3,500 pounds of food. In the picture above, Sous Chef Lynn Herrick posed with Harveters personnel after packaging up food for their pick up.
Hunger in America is an ongoing problem with more than 40 million Americans struggling daily to get enough to eat. Nearly half of those are children.
NKCH Executive Chef Roger Ortiz is the hospital’s Harvesters liaison. His staff monitors how much food is prepared to prevent excess waste but fried foods, such as from the appetizer bar, or breaded meat, typically find their way to Harvesters because they can’t be reused. Frozen package desserts, with a shorter shelf life, also are donated. “It’s rewarding to know the food we donate helps feed men, women and children in our own community,” Roger says.