Long before he became Movement’s market leader in Atlanta, Josh Covett spent his summers during college driving a forklift through a warehouse filled with sutures, drapes, gloves and beds.
That was nearly 20 years ago when MedShare, a nonprofit that provides surplus medical supplies and equipment to developing countries, was just getting started and shipping supplies only once a month.
Today, its reach has expanded to more than 100 countries across the globe. And it has provided supplies to scores of people during some of the world’s biggest disasters in recent memory, including the devastating earthquakes in Ecuador and Nepal and the Ebola crisis in West Africa. Last month, the organization partnered with Movement in an ongoing campaign to send medical supplies to victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.
“Anytime you’re sitting on a couple of warehouses filled with medical supplies and a hurricane happens, you have to be involved,” says Covett, who is one of MedShare’s southeast regional councilors alongside his wife, Holly, a Movement loan officer.
MedShare is the latest winner of the Movement 10k giveaway, an ongoing campaign to gift $10,000 to nonprofits and charities significant to Movement employees. To nominate the organizations they love, employees submit a one-minute video explaining how the group brings life, light and hope to people in need. A committee then selects a winner each month.
MedShare will use the 10k to cover its high shipping costs to remote communities overseas, and to equip local clinics that serve the uninsured and underinsured.
“You have to really know and trust that an organization is going to make good use of the $10,000,” Covett says. “I have almost 20 years of watching how careful they are with the money and how many lives they can touch with a single $10,000 check.”
One hospital’s trash is MedShare’s treasure
Since its founding in 1998, MedShare has distributed more than $207 million worth of life-saving medical equipment and supplies across the world. It’s now an international nonprofit with more than 22,000 volunteers who sort and pack supplies into large shipments that go where they’re needed most in the immediate aftermath of a disaster.
Headquartered in Decatur, Ga., with distribution centers in California and New Jersey, MedShare works with hospitals and doctors to gather supplies that otherwise would be discarded.
“A lot of these items that we’re sending or repurposing were destined for the landfill,” Covett says. “There’s a lot of waste day-to-day in a hospital.”
That’s because regulations that govern expiration dates for medicine and surgical tools are stringent, and hospitals feel pressed to buy the latest medical equipment models, meaning functional but older tools get the boot. A 2014 report from John Hopkins Medicine estimates that U.S. hospitals toss $15 million in unused operating room medical supplies while a ProPublica investigation earlier this year suggests that U.S. hospitals squander up to $765 billion a year.
To avoid waste, doctors can toss the unused supplies in MedShare bins. Once the bins are delivered to MedShare, they’re sorted, entered into MedShare’s database and stocked in large warehouses. Instead of shipping supplies patients in developing countries might not need, MedShare allows health providers to order supplies from their online database, says MedShare CEO Charles Redding.
And while MedShare operates an array of programs that meet a number of health care needs — from maternal and child health to infectious disease control and prevention — it’s primarily focused on providing supplies and equipment to help health care communities rebuild and recover after a disaster.
“Disaster relief has become one of those standard things that continues to happen,” Redding says. “A lot of times, the hospitals have been devastated or they’ve set up tent city medical care facilities. We partner with them” to fill the gaps.
Meeting needs after Maria
Together with MedShare, Movement has raised more than $6,000 so far to help deliver 6,500 pounds of medical supplies to victims of Hurricane Maria. The powerful storm caused widespread damage in Puerto Rico, killed dozens of people and left 3 million citizens without power and 1 million without running water.
The nonprofit Movement Foundation will match dollar for dollar employee’s donations to MedShare.
For Holly Covett, the partnership is just another example of Movement’s commitment to investing into communities: “Movement puts the soul first,” she says.