In the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, an academic health system in the southeast focused on securing as much medical equipment and personal protective equipment as possible to ensure they were equipped to care for COVID-19 patients. Over a year later, like many health systems, the organization found itself with excess quantities of ventilators, masks, gloves, gowns and other supplies.
“Our members were actively seeking needed products last year, not knowing when they’d be able to obtain more product or when the pandemic would slow down,” says David Gillan, Vizient, senior vice president, emerging solutions and supplier engagement.
Today, many product categories that were in critically short supply early in the pandemic have recovered. With supply lines stabilized, many hospitals find themselves with excess quantities of certain medical supplies. “A lot of the product they stocked may have been under FDA Emergency Use Authorization that has now expired or it is not their preferred product. Hospitals weren’t sure what to do with it,” adds Gillan.
That’s where Project C.U.R.E. comes in.
Medical relief for under-resourced countries
Project C.U.R.E. delivers life-saving medical equipment and supplies to hospitals and clinics in under-resourced countries around the world. Each year, Project C.U.R.E. ships roughly 200 large, 40-foot cargo containers filled with unused donated medical equipment and supplies to about 50 different countries.
Vizient’s relationship with Project C.U.R.E. dates back several years. Based on that relationship and after careful vetting, Vizient recommends Project C.U.R.E. to members seeking to donate excess supplies. “With Vizient’s group purchasing organization, members look to us to validate whether to do business or donate to a particular entity,” says Gillan. “It’s an efficient way for members to ensure that excess product is going to help address COVID-19 needs in less fortunate countries.”
A member academic health system in the southeast recently donated more than 200 pallets of COVID-19 equipment and supplies valued at more than $4.6 million to India, Sri Lanka and other Southeast Asian countries through Project C.U.R.E. Items donated include ventilators, masks, gloves, gowns, sanitizer, CPAP machines, oxygen concentrators and stethoscopes.
More than 100 Vizient employees have volunteered in the organization’s Denver, Colorado warehouse over the years. Project C.U.R.E. has also benefited from Vizient’s annual Community Day each October when employees leave the office to partner with local charities making a difference.
“Project C.U.R.E. is by far the biggest agency that deals with donated medical supplies and equipment,” says Jennifer Lind, Vizient senior community impact director. “Based on our experience with the organization and its mission, we are very comfortable recommending Project C.U.R.E. to members seeking to donate excess supplies to help with the needs of less fortunate countries.”
All donations to the medical relief organization are tax-deductible. For non-profit health systems, gifts may count toward community benefit requirements. Donating excess medical supplies and equipment to Project C.U.R.E. also assures members that the products aren’t entering the gray market, where third parties that are unauthorized by a product’s original manufacturer sell in-demand supplies at a markup.
Donating medical supplies and equipment to Project C.U.R.E.
With warehouses and collection centers across the U.S., Project C.U.R.E. makes it easy for hospitals to donate medical equipment and supplies. The organization will pick up donations from hospitals located within 100 miles of a warehouse. The Project C.U.R.E. team reviews the donated equipment and supplies to determine what they can accept. If any product is unusable, the organization handles the disposal.
Once the Project C.U.R.E. assessment teams review donated products, they collaborate with in-country partners to determine what supplies are needed for their facilities. “With boots on the ground in 135 countries, the Project C.U.R.E. team understands the medical standards for what each country will accept,” says Lind, noting that some countries can use recently expired products because of less stringent laws and regulations than those in the U.S. The Project C.U.R.E. procurement teams keep up to date on the evolving supply needs of each country. For example, the organization is currently working to send one million syringes to Cuba to support COVID-19 vaccination efforts.
“Project C.U.R.E. has an entire procurement team, which makes donating very easy on the health system. They are so mindful of waste. They want to make sure products go directly into the country and the clinics. They do that through extensive relationships within those countries,” adds Lind.
In addition to donating medical supplies and equipment, volunteers are also vital to Project C.U.R.E.’s success. In addition to Vizient employees’ ongoing volunteer work at Project C.U.R.E.’s Denver warehouse, dozens of nurses at a Vizient member hospital in the midwest volunteered at Project C.U.R.E. by sorting, labeling and boxing unused medical supplies and preparing them for shipment to underserved countries. They also collected and donated medical supplies.
The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the vulnerability of the global health care supply chain and highlighted the need for greater supply chain transparency and redundancy. Vizient has worked to build a more resilient and transparent upstream supply chain for members through the Novaplus Enhanced Supply Program and other resources throughout the pandemic. Downstream, Project C.U.R.E. is leading the charge to provide supply chain transparency and redundancy with multiple warehouses across the U.S. and transparency into where donated supplies and equipment are shipped.
If your organization is interested in donating excess medical supplies or equipment or volunteering with Project C.U.R.E., contact Lind via email.