Medical Missions: Ordering Your Equipment

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So you’re heading overseas in a medical capacity–as if the overseas part wasn’t enough, right? Hopefully you’ve got an experienced organization behind you. But you might feel thrown in the deep end a bit as you get things off the ground.

We’ve talked with DRE Medical’s Amanda Cannady, who serves as Director of their Global Outreach Division. DRE Medical is owned in part by a former missionary and has supplied global medical equipment for the last 35 years.

She’s got great ideas as you equip your trip.

1. What’s your supplier’s experience working with non-profits and medical mission groups that serve developing countries?

A quick internet search can bring up hundreds of companies. But are they a good fit? Select a company that has experience supplying equipment specifically to developing countries.

  • Depending upon the location, hospitals may or may not have a consistent power source. Items may require a long-life battery backup if a generator is not available.
  • Power sources may also require 220 volts instead of the standard 110 volts in the USA.
  • Some equipment does not work well with a transformer and may stop working over time if power reads higher than 220 volts, specifically when the hospital lacks a surge protector. Location of the hospital in relation to the main power source/grid can also increase the voltage.
  • Extreme heat and humidity in various regions can also be a concern with equipment. Does excessive moisture cause mechanical issues? Try to confirm if the equipment on hand has experienced complications due to moisture or other environmental conditions.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask your medical equipment supplier for references and specific projects they have provided to in the past. Your supplier will be proud to share information about past and present projects.

2. Is the equipment appropriate for your clinic?

Clinics and hospitals can vary widely within each country. The better prepared you are, the better the outcome. Ask your local contact to confirm what equipment the facility currently uses.

  • What equipment is available? Is it up and running?
  • What challenges do they face operating and maintaining the equipment?
  • What equipment has the facility discarded, and why?

Questions like these help you determine the level of technology of equipment in the facility
and to determine what’s being maintained and serviced long term. You’ll have a lot more understanding of what’s feasible in your specific context so you’re not expending resources on equipment your facility can’t reasonably maintain.

3. Is the equipment sustainable long-term?

This is a top priority. So ask questions like these:

  • Confirm: Is there is an onsite technician or biomedical engineer. If not, what staff member plans to service the equipment or at least troubleshoot the equipment on site? The equipment may never be used again if the level of technology is too advanced, because it will not be supported by local staff. And soon, your wonderful gift can morph into expensive medical waste as it fails to be properly maintained.
  • Confirm short term and long-term expectations for use of equipment. Does the hospital have
    what it needs to meet and exceed your short- and long-term expectations for this equipment?
  • What consumables will it requires over time? Perhaps you can bring with you an inventory of consumables.
  • Does your equipment require pediatric or adult accessories? Does it match with your facility’s target audience?
  • Does your supplier offer on site and/or distance learning training?
  • What type of support is available for locals to use the equipment long term?
  • Do you have access to spare parts?

Sure, the medical sphere can have its own particular challenges with sustainability. But it can also be one of the most effective ways to meet felt needs of any community, a lot like Jesus did. Think ahead–and go get ’em, Tiger.


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