Collaborating Saves Lives

Living Out Collaboration Saves Lives in Rural Haiti

Collaboration is one of MATTER’s key values and collaborating is essential to the work we do. By partnering with other like-minded organizations, we’re able to make critical and sustainable impact in communities worldwide.

Recently, our Medical Program Director, Joel Anderson, spoke with two of our dedicated partners, Lisa Campbell, Director of Purchased Services Contracting at UnityPoint Health and Lorraine Zachary of Real Hope for Haiti, a ministry that operates a clinic and rescue center for malnourished children in rural Haiti. They discussed how collaborating works for them and its impact on the ground in Haiti. Below is an excerpt from the interview.

Joel: Lisa, why is it important for UnityPoint Health to invest time and energy to repurpose their excess medical supplies?

Lisa: We’re in Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa and our main distribution hub is in Des Moines. So we’ve worked with Owens & Minor [a global healthcare solutions company] and Lube-Tech [producers of custom-blended industrial lubricant solutions] to create this nice operational way of getting supplies and equipment from all of our hospitals.

A pallet of medical supplies from UnityPoint Health arrives in MATTERs warehouse.

I work with the supply chain leaders and they work with their staff to say, ‘We partner with MATTER. If there are things you want to repurpose or get rid of, or things that might be expired, put them on the dock and the trucks from Owens & Minor will pick them up’…So it’s in the back of their minds to ask, ‘What do we have that might get thrown away or put into a landfill?’ It’s a no-brainer. They put their excess supplies down on the dock and an Owens & Minor truck will bring it back to our distribution center where Lube-Tech will then pick it up and bring it to you guys. It’s an easy process and people just love it.

Joel: I’m so glad you mentioned Owens & Minor and Lube-Tech. To make something beautiful happen requires teamwork and collaboration. And Lube-Tech sending their trucks whenever we need them, bringing in these supplies and equipment from UnityPoint, and Owens & Minor being so easy to work with…it’s wonderful teamwork.

Lisa: It really works so smoothly…The most important thing is that we want to make a difference in people’s lives all over the world. We have this reach in Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin, but we want to touch more lives than that. This is such important work, being able to help organizations like MATTER with things that would otherwise go into the landfill or we’d have to pay for someone to haul them away. It makes perfect sense to partner with you. It’s a wonderful relationship, our whole vision and purpose are to show people how much they matter, and what better way to do that than by partnering with MATTER.

Joel: Lorie, how essential are these supplies from UnityPoint for the work that Real Hope for Haiti is doing?

Lorie: Critical. At this point, we now use supplies from MATTER every single day. Wound care, gauze, IV catheters are all very hard to get. There have been times we’ve used cabbage leaves as gauze because we had none. We would tear old sheets up for bandages. We’d use paper towel and toilet paper…In March, a shipment came in from MATTER and so now we are restocked again. It’s a morale booster for our staff to know they have the tools they need to provide the care that everyone deserves.

Joel: Can you share a specific story about how these supplies saved a life at the clinic?

Two-year-old Nehemy being rushed to a hospital in Haiti. His life was saved at a clinic operated by Real Hope for Haiti thanks to the supplies donated to MATTER by UnityPoint Health, showing an important outcome of these partners collaborating.

Lorie: I’m going to read this account from my stepdaughter because she was there and can tell it much better than I can: About two weeks ago, a 2-year old boy named Nehemy was rushed to our clinic after seizing for over an hour at home. Thanks to the supplies we received from MATTER, we had the ER bed ready for him with a drape and chux pad. We immediately grabbed peds oxygen tubing and tape to put him on oxygen.  We used a wrap-around probe on his toe to monitor his heart rate and oxygen levels. We used gloves, IV 24g angiocath, tegaderm, tape, gauze, IV lock tubing and IV lock hub, syringes and alcohol pads to start an IV with seizure meds. His O2 came up and his seizures calmed a bit.

Just when we thought he might be slightly improving he took a turn for the worse, stopped breathing and died. His heart and breathing stopped for two minutes. We performed CPR and used suction and tubing to pull out secretions from his airways. Finally, we got a faint heartbeat. Nehemy started breathing again but did not regain consciousness. He was transported to a larger hospital where he spent the night and was released the next morning. He was shaky and weak, but alive. His family is following up with a neurologist.

Simply put, MATTER supplies saved this young child’s life. We couldn’t have done anything for him without these supplies.

Lisa: That’s exactly why we do what we do. We love hearing these stories. It just warms my heart and I know UnityPoint loves this work. I’m overwhelmed with gratitude and so happy that we can make any difference at all.

Lorie: Without our partnership, our collaboration, and all of us working towards the same goal, none of us could do what we’re doing with these favorable outcomes.

Joel: I can’t thank you both enough for the long partnerships we’ve had and how this teamwork changes lives, saves lives, and makes what we do every day worthwhile.

Interested in becoming a MATTER donating hospital partner? Learn more about our amazing hospital partnerships here.

Watch the full interview below!