For William H. Rosenblatt, MD, HS ’90, FW ’91, an “aha” moment came in an email from a wife desperate to get rid of a storage unit full of medical supplies for her husband recently. deceased. She had pallets of bandages, syringes, fluids and other items in perfect condition for her husband’s dialysis, valued at at least $ 10,000. She tried to donate the material, but had no takers.
“They were telling him to throw it out,” said Rosenblatt, professor of anesthesiology and surgery. The woman contacted Rosenblatt through Med-Eq, which he founded several years ago, and begged him to accept the cache. The Med-Eq website lists excess medical supplies from healthcare organizations and links them with nonprofit organizations. The organization only negotiated donations from hospitals and clinics, but Rosenblatt made an exception.
“I said, ‘yeah, we’ll take them,’” Rosenblatt said.
The experience opened Rosenblatt’s eyes. After a loved one dies, families often have everything from hospital beds to wheelchairs that no one will take.
“I would talk to people sometimes, and they were literally in tears,” Rosenblatt said. “They had gone out and bought these supplies, or they had been paid for by Medicare, and nobody wanted them. The vendors had made a sale. They didn’t want them to come back. Hospitals and clinics were concerned about the legal implications of taking the materials. “
In March 2013, Med-Eq’s website, www.med-eq.org, began tracking donated medical supplies and equipment from bereaved families. As with all of its donations, the material is free to federally recognized nonprofits, which in turn send 80 to 90 percent of articles overseas.
Rosenblatt is a veteran of reusing medical supplies. In 1991, he founded the Recovered Medical Equipment for the Developing World (REMEDY), which sends open but unused surgical and other medical supplies to third world countries. At its peak, the group partnered with more than 600 hospitals, he said. Med-Eq was an outgrowth of REMEDY.
Med-Eq’s new program is still in its infancy, listing at most one individual donation per week, but growing. The organization is upgrading its website for ease of individual use, he said. He also plans awareness raising through clergy and brochures distributed by visiting nurse associations.
Priests, ministers and rabbis are particularly effective communicators as they care for bereaved families, Rosenblatt said. Rabbi Herbert N. Brockman of the Mishkan Israel congregation in Hamden, Connecticut, agreed, saying he distributed a Med-Eq pamphlet about once a month. “You go to them, and when you do, you see all this gear,” Brockman said. “I’ll talk to them if they’re interested.” “
Brockman mentioned Med-Eq to Sue Millen of North Haven, Connecticut, and for her it was a godsend. After Millen’s 97-year-old mother-in-law died, the family had two wheelchairs, dressers, walkers, tongs and other medical supplies. Med-Eq partnered Millen with Renewed Life Philippine Mission, who picked up the items from her home and shipped them to the Philippines.
“I was thrilled,” Millen said. “These things are really used by people. They were really grateful to have them.