Global Links

Global Links is a medical relief and development organization dedicated to a two-fold mission of environmental stewardship and improving health in developing countries. Global Links collaborates with U.S. healthcare facilities and the community to redirect still useful materials away from the waste stream to public health improvement efforts locally and globally.
Jun 12, 2014

Don't forget to send more Healthcare Worker Kits

Repairs continue in Santiago
Repairs continue in Santiago

“The Health Care Worker Kits you sent us were invaluable,” said the Provincial Vice-Director of the Ministry of Health in Santiago de Cuba at the closing meeting of Global Links’ site evaluation visit. For four days in April, Global Links staff visited hospitals affected by Hurricane Sandy, evaluating the impact of our support and assessing potential projects. At each hospital, the staff would thank us for the support we had provided and mention the Health Care Worker Kits as one of the key items they appreciated receiving.  “Yes.” I responded to the Vice-Director, “Everyone we spoke to highlighted those kits.”  The Vice-Director sat down, took off her glasses and quietly responded “They were very valuable; allow me to share my personal story.”

Hurricane Sandy was the strongest Hurricane to impact Santiago de Cuba.  A category 2 hurricane, Sandy entered Santiago with winds of up to 220 km per hour, tidal waves of 9 to 10 meters and hours upon hours of rain.  The difficult task of cleanup and rebuilding started immediately after the storm had cleared, but the magnitude of damage to the local infrastructure led to a rise in infectious diseases in the area.  Cholera, brought back to the Caribbean region through poor sanitary conditions at humanitarian response camps following the 2010 Haitian earthquake, is now one of the epidemiological risks following any disaster in the region. For months after Hurricane Sandy, healthcare workers in Santiago de Cuba canvassed the communities in the province identifying at-risk individuals and transporting patients with cholera to one of the main hospitals for treatment.

“We were at the point where we felt the situation was under control, and we were providing educational visits to the community about basic hygiene to prevent cholera.” explained the Vice-Director.  “We were visiting a community in the Sierras – the mountains – when a young doctor stopped at the home of an elderly man whom the neighbors believed was suffering from cholera.”  There was only one problem: the doctor had no protective gear with her.  They stood outside the house pondering possibilities that would allow the doctor to enter the house without putting her life at risk.  Did they assess the situation from the outside, go to the closest hospital for the protective gear and then come back?  But this was an area of difficult access, so it would be hours before they could come back and cholera patients cannot spare hours.  Then the Vice-Director remembered that she had one of the Health Worker kits we had sent in the trunk of her car. She was able to give the doctor a gown, gloves, and face mask, enabling the doctor to care for the patient with minimal risk to herself.

When we think about medical resources, we sometimes forget to include personnel – and yet of all the resources, they are the most precious.  This was brought home to me several times on my recent trip to Cuba. I also saw a lab technician washing microscope slides, a potential biohazard, thankfully wearing gloves from Global Links. Reusing single-use materials is common in the countries where we work and I was glad to see the staff taking precautions to protect themselves.

The health care worker kits were donated to Global Links by a local corporation who had them as preventive measures for a season in which H1N1 was on the rise.  Thankfully, there was no pandemic in Pittsburgh and the surplus materials served their purpose protecting Cuban Health care workers battling cholera.

Our project to help Santiago de Cuba recover and rebuild from Hurricane Sandy is now in phase two.   In 2014 and 2015, Global Links will be working on strengthening their ORs with anesthesia machines and surgical beds, their patient wards with beds and mattresses, their laboratories with microscopes and testing equipment. And as we worked during that closing meeting on the list of consumable supplies to prioritize during this phase, the Vice-Director smiled and said “And don’t forget to send more Healthcare Worker Kits.”

Washing microscope slides in Global Links gloves
Washing microscope slides in Global Links gloves
New mattresses needed in Hospital Saturino Lora
New mattresses needed in Hospital Saturino Lora
New OR table needed at Hospital Ambrosio Grillo
New OR table needed at Hospital Ambrosio Grillo
Apr 23, 2014

Phase 1 Update, Phase 2 Begins and a Match

Mike and Dave load boxes for the shipment
Mike and Dave load boxes for the shipment

Thank you for supporting Global Links' Amazon Heath Boat Project!

Please read on for an importation update on the project, new information on Phase 2 and Save-the-Date for a special GlobalGiving Match Day on May 7 (30% matching!!!).

On Friday, March 21st, friends, supporters, volunteers and staff gathered to send off the first shipment for the Amazon Health Boat. Weighing about 20,000 lbs, this shipment contained everything from scales, crutches, rescue stretchers and a dental chair to exam gloves, tongue depressors and, of course, 80 Global Links Medical Backpacks.

The shipment arrived in Chile this week and will begin the trip to La Paz, Boliva in a few days. Upon arrival in Bolivia, materials must wait for review by customs officials before making the long journey north to Guayaramerin. If everything is on schedule it should arrive by mid-June so workers and doctors can begin preparing the Amazon Health Boat.

Global Links program officer, Karina Zelaya, will arrive in Guayaramerin to ensure that all materials have arrived safely and that layout plans for the boat have been followed before setting out on the river.

In late January of this year the Pando and Beni regions of Bolivia suffered widespread flooding. With a reported death toll of 60 and 150,000 more affected by the flood, the need for services from Global Links' Amazon Health Boat have taken on an even greater sense of urgency. 

This shipment also included ten hydraulic gurneys for the Hospital de Guayaramerin. This hospital in Beni is the reference hospital for the Amazon Health Boat and the focus of Phase 2 of this project - it's where patients will go when their needs cannot be met on the boat.

The mission of Guayaramerin is, in part, to provide all the specialties available in a second level hospital, including surgeries and other complex procedures, in addition to basic primary care. The hospital also serves as a referral center for disasters, such as the recent flooding in which 60 people died and 60,000 homes were damaged or destroyed. The hospital is in good physical condition, but lacks the furnishings and equipment necessary to provide complete health care to the people in the area. 

Hospital de Guayaramerin serves a population of 116,000 in an area that suffers a high level of poverty and tropical disease.  The health services provided by the boat can keep chronic conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes in check. And when complications arise, or a mother needs a c-section, or child needs an x-ray, Guayaramerin will, after completion of Phase 2, be ready to meet them. 

Please help us with this cost-effective and efficient system that provides care to a large and diverse population. Your financial support is needed to cover the costs of shipping two more containers filled with hospital furnishings and equipment – material deemed surplus by the US medical community, and life-saving when it reaches its destination. 

Mark Wednesday, May 7 on your calendar.  All donations to the Amazon Health Boat on that day will receive a 30% match. This is an opportunity for you to share this important work with friends and family to encourage them to join you in supporting Global Links.

Staff double-checking inventory before loading.
Staff double-checking inventory before loading.
Bidding a fond farewell to our 500th shipment.
Bidding a fond farewell to our 500th shipment.
Karina w/ Hospital Director and Gov
Karina w/ Hospital Director and Gov't Officials
Guayaramerin lab ready for Global Links materials
Guayaramerin lab ready for Global Links materials

Links:

Feb 10, 2014

Increasing Capacity and a Matching Opportunity

Our most recent shipment to Cuba continues Global Links’ project to support the healthcare infrastructure in Santiago as it continues to recover from the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy. On January 30, 2014 Global Links staff packed a container that will furnish12 medical examination rooms in Hospital Saturnino Lora.  

From exam tables, stools, desks, chairs, scales and beds to literally hundreds of boxes of  supplies, this shipment will provide healthcare professionals with much-needed materials to better serve the population. Thank you for making this important part of the project possible. 

As we work to help increase the capacity of the hospitals in and around Santiago we need your continued support to properly finish this phase of the project. Between now and the end of 2015 we have at least 8 more shipments planned. 

On Wednesday, February 12 at 9 a.m.(EST) 30% of all gifts to the Huricane Sandy Relief for Santiago, Cuba will be matched. Please take advantage of this generous matching opportunity this Wednesday. It's a way to maximize your support and help Global Links increase its capacity to help those in need.

Thank you for all you do to support Global Links' work in Cuba.

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