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Stop, Drop, and Recycle Medical Supplies

November 2010

forklift lifting boxes
A shipment of medical supplies being prepared
at the InterVol warehouse

Before you think about disposing of those unusable sterile instruments, scrubs, examination tables, or other supplies, think again. Thanks to a partnership between the University of Rochester Medical Center and InterVol, a local non-profit organization, unused medical supplies can be redistributed to countries and people who need them.

While safe and sterile, these supplies may not meet the standards required for use in the United States (i.e., if they have been removed from packaging or are even slightly expired, they are deemed unusable), but can still play a critical role in helping others. In 2008 for instance, these supplies have helped doctors save lives in Haiti and in Belize (when the Golisano Children’s Hospital donated more than ten incubators to help fill the need in Belize). In fact, Strong Memorial and Highland Hospitals have not only assisted in recent endeavors to help in Haiti, they are the biggest contributors of recycled medical supplies to InterVol, and have been partners from day one of InterVol’s establishment, over ten years ago.

While this hard work and success deserve an infinite amount of gold stars, there is still a great need for these supplies, and ways you can provide them. Drop off locations for supplies are already up and running in cardiology, psychiatry, and pediatrics departments, but InterVol is constantly looking for more volunteers and collection points.

If you are interested in starting a drop off location in your department, e-mail the program directly. If you’d like to drop off items to an already established collection point, you can view InterVol’s website for a detailed list of acceptable and unacceptable items for donation. Currently, they urgently need anesthesia medications, nebulizers and tubing, portable pulse oximeters, and a few other important supplies, although they can find use for most donated items.

Interested in learning more? You can also read about how previous assistance from the University of Rochester Medical Center and other medical facilities have given them the ability to provide supplies and services to those in need, and how your continued efforts can keep their supply bins full.