One World Surgery Honduras hosts Medline volunteers to advance supply chain efficiencies

One World Surgery Honduras hosts Medline volunteers to advance supply chain efficiencies

By Medline Newsroom Staff | January 8, 2024

Environmental, Social & Governance

One World Surgery Honduras hosts Medline volunteers to advance supply chain efficiencies

Service trip helps increase health equity and facility efficiencies

For most people in the United States, a needed surgery takes them to a sterile operating room with an experienced surgical team who has all the required supplies on hand and ready to go. But in some parts of the world, the picture is very different. Although surgery can cure a third of all human illness and disease, five billion people lack access to surgery at all, and many people live in a clinical desert, lacking even the most basic care.

Medline’s Global Health Initiative is working to change that. The company’s skills-based volunteer program advances health equity by pairing nonprofit health systems operating in low-resource settings with employees experienced in supply chain optimization, perioperative efficiency and health education. One of those nonprofit partners is One World Surgery, a global charity dedicated to providing world-class surgical and primary care to underserved communities in the Dominican Republic and Honduras. In November 2023, during Medline’s annual Month of Service, 12 Medline volunteers spent a week in Honduras to advance One World Surgery’s supply chain capabilities.

“What was so critical for us on this trip is that we were able to use the knowledge that the Medline staff brought to really look at our warehouse to identify the inefficiencies and help us improve.”

Michael Fry

Supply Chain Manager
One World Surgery

In Honduras, the healthcare system ranks 131st among 191 countries listed by the World Health Organization, and only 10% of Hondurans are covered by health insurance. “If you come in for an exam or checkup, you’re expected to go to a medical supplies store to purchase what you need and bring it to your doctor,” said One World Surgery Supply Chain Manager Michael Fry who helped lead the volunteer mission with Medline. The situation often means Hondurans simply can’t afford needed surgeries.

To help bridge that gap, One World Surgery funds and operates the Holy Family Surgery Center. It’s located on the property of their partner, the Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos (NPH) children’s home, a 2,000-acre ranch approximately one hour northeast of Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras. One World Surgery coordinates medical mission trips that work side by side with Honduran staff at the surgery center. Together, they’re able to perform approximately 1,300 surgeries each year. “We offer services there that aren’t offered anywhere else in the country,” Fry said.

Medline and One World Surgery: a long-lasting partnership

“The close relationship between Medline and One World Surgery goes back many years,” explained Senior Manager, Environmental, Social & Governance Evelyn Miller, also a volunteer on the trip.

Medline volunteers Kavita Idnani-Ramos and Stephen Joseph at the Holy Family Surgery warehouse

“In addition to the skills-based volunteer trips throughout the years, Medline has sponsored product donations and charitable giving that has supported the organization’s supply chain optimization and perioperative efficiency,” Miller said. Support has ranged from funding and training the nonprofit’s first warehouse supervisor position for the first three years in Honduras, to investing an additional $250,000 over 5 years to help build a new One World Surgery center in the Dominican Republic.

One World Surgery warehouse gets an efficiency facelift

Although the surgery center has made a huge impact since opening in 2008, there are still challenges that are common to health facilities in low-resource settings. One challenge is the limited access to supplies and the resources to manage them. That’s why a primary goal of the Medline volunteer trip was to identify areas of improvement in the facility’s warehouse. “What was so critical for us on this trip is that we were able to use the knowledge that the Medline staff brought to really look at our warehouse to identify the inefficiencies and help us improve,” Fry explained.

“We were able to clear space for them to better offload their shipments.”

Elaine Jarosz, Medline Operations Engineer

Elaine Jarosz

Medline Operations Engineer and Volunteer

The Medline volunteer team talked to the new warehouse supervisor and got his input on his challenges and goals. Then they looked at where supplies go, how they were organized, how they were documented—and they got to work.

Medline volunteer and Operations Engineer Elaine Jarosz said the team hit the ground running. They spent two days emptying the warehouse, moving shelves around, cleaning everything and relabeling. “We were able to clear space for them to better offload their shipments,” she explained, adding that they uncovered a few interesting insects along the way.

They also noticed some safety hazards. “We saw cases of gloves stacked on the top level and thought, those are usually about 50 pounds, so for someone to grab that on a stepstool—which is what they were doing—would be dangerous,” Jarosz said. Instead, the Medline team set up the space so heavy items like that would be placed on pallets.

Medline volunteers in Honduras

Medline’s volunteer team in Honduras

In the end, the Medline volunteer team was able to free up about 40% of the warehouse space without throwing anything away. “Having that kind of expertise, they were able to come in and pinpoint areas of improvement right away,” Fry said.

To further prepare the on-site staff for self-sufficiency, Medline volunteers also revised some of the standard operating procedures. “That way we could just pass it off to them if they have staff turnover or need to train a second person,” Jarosz explained.

Making connections

Medline volunteers worked hard, but they also had a chance to enjoy the culture and location, and make some meaningful connections. “The people were very welcoming and nice, so it made it easy to jump right in and help them,” Jarosz said. “And they helped us so much by letting us know what they needed.”

“The close relationship between Medline and One World Surgery goes back many years.”

Evelyn Miller, Medline Senior Manager, ESG

Evelyn Miller

Medline Senior Manager
Environmental, Social & Governance

“It’s always really encouraging just to see how closely our Honduran staff works with the groups that come down and how they really get to know them,” Fry said.

Each day, the volunteers started with coffee at One World Surgery’s visitor accommodations and conference center. They’d then walk about 10 minutes through a wooded area to the surgery center. They’d get breakfast, regroup and figure out the plan for the day. “We had a lot of different Medline departments and groups represented, and we ate three meals together every day, so I was able to learn about what other people did in the organization,” Jarosz said.

At the end of the day, they’d relax with dinner and games of cards or cornhole, sometimes joining the children of NPH playing soccer or basketball. On the last night of the trip, the volunteers were treated to a quinceañera at the children’s home.

The close partnership with One World Surgery is one example of how Medline leverages employee skills and expertise to create solutions that empower clinicians and communities—ultimately helping people get the healthcare they deserve. “Partnerships like the one we have with Medline are critical for what we do,” Fry emphasizes. “I look forward to hopefully doing another one of these trips with the group again soon.”

Learn more about how Medline is making healthcare run better around the world.

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Categories: Company News, Social Responsibility

Medline Newsroom Staff

Medline Newsroom Staff

Medline's newsroom staff researches and reports on the latest news and trends in healthcare.

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