A Houston-based medical surplus nonprofit new to Hays County picked up donations from Seton Medical Center Hays on May 19 that will be donated to struggling health care providers worldwide.
Medical Bridges recovers surplus medical supplies and redistributes it to clinics, hospitals and
health care providers in developing countries. Americans throw away an estimated $9 billion in medical supplies and equipment each year, said Jeremiah Judkins, director of operations.
“Hospitals are getting better at managing that inventory, but it’s still the nature of the system to generate stuff,” he said.
In the nearly 20 years since Medical Bridges was founded, they have sent over $90 million worth of medical supplies to more than 80 countries on five continents.
The nonprofit corporation was founded in 1997 by Patricia Brook after she went on a medical mission trip to El Salvador, where she was shocked by the lack of basic medical supplies. When she returned to Houston, she and other doctors formed a recycling program to facilitate the transfer of reusable medical supplies to developing countries.
Seton Medical Center Hays donated spare furniture — such as couches and chairs— to Medical Bridges. Judkins said health care providers often need more than just medical equipment: chars, computers and phones are important to run a functioning hospital or clinic. This was Seton’s first time working with Medical Bridges.
“We’re happy to start this relationship (with Seton),” Judkins said. “If (a donation) can go in a hospital, I can accept it.”
The hospital provided three movers to help transport the donations from storage to Medical Bridges’ truck to take back to Houston, a move Judkins said is very rare.
“That was a huge help, it was very generous of them,” he said. “Seton was very accommodating.”
While about two-thirds of donations to Medical Bridges are from businesses, individual donations make up a sizeable portion.
“We’re happy to start this relationship (with Seton). If (a donation) can go in a hospital, I can accept it.”
—Jeremiah Judkins, Medical Bridges director of operations
“The way the home medical system is, we get a lot of people who call and say, ‘I get 300 more of these catheters than I need,’ or, ‘My husband just passed away and they sent three more loads of whatever and they won’t take it back,’” Judkins said. “This leaves people with boxes stacked at their house.”
Medical Bridges operates a pick-up system in the Houston area. Five days a week, a truck goes out to collect donations with no pick-up fee.
“We’re very happy to come get it,” Judkins said.
While daily pick-ups aren’t available in the Central Texas area, Judkins said those in the area who are interested in giving spare medical equipment can fill out a donation form or contact him at 713-766-6558. Judkins could arrange for a special pickup or suggest another organization to donate to, he said.