Can’t Attend a Medical Brigade but Still Want to Help? Find Out How!

By Maura Riordon, Global Brigades Medications Coordinator

Do you want to get involved with Medical Brigades but can’t attend a brigade? A great way to support Medical Brigades and partner community members is by helping us make strong connections with companies or organizations that can help support our work through monetary donations or in-kind donations. We are excited to highlight a few partnerships that were made to primarily support the Community Health Workers in Honduras!

Trained Community Health Workers taking the blood pressure of a patient on the American University of Antigua, Cleveland State University, University of Maryland Baltimore, and Smith College Medical Brigade in San Matias, Honduras, in January 2018.

MDF Instruments and their Crafting Wellness initiative.

In 2017 and 2018, we received several donations of stethoscopes and blood pressure cuffs for both Honduras and Nicaragua. This medical equipment has proven to be useful in Medical Brigades triage stations, and also with our Community Health Workers program. For example, we recently had a Community Health Worker (CHW) graduation in the community of Los Huatales, Amapala, Valle, Honduras. Fourteen men and women graduated after training with Global Brigades staff on a variety of topics including basic human anatomy, sanitation, natural medicines, chronic diseases, vital signs, first aid, common illnesses, STDs, prenatal care, family planning, nutrition, pharmacology, oral health, and how to use first aid supplies and equipment.

Furthermore, thanks to the donation from MDF, we were able to equip each graduating CHW with a new stethoscope and blood pressure cuff that they can use while volunteering in their community! This graduation story is thankfully not unique in that we have been able to equip several communities of CHWs with the proper medical equipment to care for their fellow community members because of the generous support from MDF Instruments. Additionally, we have been able to give out new equipment to replace broken devices at our Community Health Workers Conferences in August 2017, March 2018, and August 2018.

We also want to give a shoutout to Ohio State University’s Medical Brigade to Honduras in May 2017. Healthcare professional Debra Cifani joined this brigade and brought a large donation to Honduras from MDF and helped us create a lasting partnership to be able to receive several more donations following the brigade.

Graduating class of Community Health Workers in Los Huatales, Honduras, with their new MDF Instruments stethoscopes and sphygmomanometers.

Camp Sweeney (Southwestern Diabetic Foundation Inc.): the largest camp of its kind in the world that provides summer camp opportunities for children aged 5-18 who have Type 1 diabetes.

A Global Brigades staff member, Erin Barnett, used to work at Camp Sweeney in Texas for two summers while in university. This past summer, she worked a few weekends and, the proactive thinker that she is, saw that the camp was using new glucometers and asked what they were doing with the old ones.

In the fall of 2018, Erin worked with her previous coworkers at Camp Sweeney to get the old OneTouch Ultra Mini glucometers, that were still in good shape, donated to Global Brigades! Over the next couple of months, Global Brigades was able to get the information needed to receive the glucometers and to acquire appropriate test strips to use with the glucose monitors.

In total, Global Brigades was donated approximately 310 glucometers to use primarily with the Community Health Workers program. In the next few months, these meters will be given out to newly graduating CHWs as well as to current CHWs who need replacements for older or broken equipment.

One of the OneTouch Ultra Mini glucometer kits donated by Camp Sweeney (Southwestern Diabetic Foundation Inc.)

PharmaTech Solutions, Inc.

Above, we mentioned a donation of glucometers from Camp Sweeney. This was a marvelous donation; however, we cannot use glucose monitors without test strips. This is where PharmaTech Solutions comes in!

After contacting representatives from PharmaTech Solutions regarding their generic brand test strips for OneTouch Ultra Mini glucometers, Maura Riordon, Global Brigades’ medications coordinator, was transferred to Keith Burman, the president of the company. She spoke to him about the organization and the work that the CHW program carries out in rural Honduras. Furthermore, they discussed the new donation of glucometers and he generously offered to provide a continuous supply of GenUltimate! test strips to use with the monitors.

The first donation of 7,200 test strips arrived to Honduras in early January 2019 thanks to the help of the Virginia Tech University Medical Brigade Chapter. These strips will be given out in the next few months with the donated glucometers from Camp Sweeney to newly graduating CHWs as well as to current CHWs who need replacements for older or broken equipment.

Thanks to these generous donations, Community Health Workers will be able to monitor the blood glucose levels of critical patients in their community. This added health service greatly benefits community members in rural Honduras who otherwise don’t have access to this type of service.

Dr. Jenny Najera, Medical Brigades Director in Honduras, and Dr. Ana Romero supervising a CHW taking the blood pressure of a fellow CHW at a Community Health Workers Conference on August 20, 2018

Are you ready to get involved?

Please reach out to a Global Brigades staff member (or email medications@globalbrigades.org) with connections if you think you too can help us build new partnerships to continue to improve the health of our partners in rural Central America and Ghana.

Global Brigades