Biomedical Equipment Donations Combined with Training Critical to Longterm Sustainability
By Charles Redding, CEO & President
Medical equipment is essential for safe and effective prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation. It is vital for healthcare facilities to have functioning medical equipment that is safe, dependable, and available for diagnostic procedures, therapy, treatment, and monitoring of patients.
However, there continues to be a significant gap in the availability of quality, functional biomedical equipment and beds in the developing world and underserved communities in the U.S. When medical equipment breaks down, it often stays broken given that supply chain issues make it difficult to access replacement parts, and local technical expertise is scarce.
Even when the equipment is not broken, it may not be useful. In some cases, the donated equipment needs voltage that is incompatible with the electrical supply (if it is available and consistent) in the target country. In some cases, the equipment itself may work but the supplies needed to make it work may have run out or they lack the tools to accurately diagnose and repair the equipment. I have also noticed that there is often a mismatch between the equipment donated and the capacity of the healthcare facility to actually use the equipment. What good is a CT-Scan when you donate it to a facility that has no healthcare workers with training to use it or steady electricity to keep it in operation?
Properly donated medical equipment can improve access to quality healthcare and health outcomes by allowing for some of the surplus from high resource settings to be passed to low resource settings. However, if poorly executed, donations could turn into a burden for the recipient, wasting an enormous amount of money, human resources, and time, with long term implications – crippled healthcare systems and unnecessary environmental burden. But if the staff is trained in how to accurately diagnose, maintain, and repair the equipment, these donations become a constant lifeline for so many people struggling to access quality healthcare.
In 2021, MedShare donated over $2 million dollars of essential medical supplies and equipment to Delta State, Nigeria. One of the recipient hospitals in this region was Asaba Specialist Hospital (ASH), which opened in 2019. ASH is a 290-bed hospital and is part of Nigeria's Secondary Healthcare System. The Secondary Healthcare System is managed by the states government through their state ministries of health and manages medical cases that are considered "too big" for Primary Health Care.
The donation to the hospital included over 50 pieces of critical care equipment including infant warmers, exam tables, electrosurgical units, vital sign monitors, neonatal phototherapy unit, pulse oximeters, oxygen concentrators, an ECG machine, nebulizers, and infusion pumps.
In addition to the donation from MedShare, the Delta State government understood the strategic importance of also sponsoring training of local biomed engineers on the installation of shipped equipment and repairs of existing faulty medical equipment at the hospital.
MedShare's Director of Biomedical Equipment Training and Technical Services, Eben Amstrong, traveled to ASH, where he trained over 30 engineers, technicians, and end-users on how to properly maintain and repair broken equipment. The participants received specialized training on troubleshooting techniques, common faults and remedies on ultrasound machines, Hill-Rom Versa Care P3200 ICU patient beds, and ophthalmology equipment. The hospital was also provided a new and complete maintenance toolkit which contained many of the tools and instruments required for diagnoses, maintenance, and repairs.
MedShare invests significant time and resources in its Biomedical Equipment Training and Repair service to address the dilemma of donated medical equipment sitting idle in healthcare facilities. The specialized training conducted provides a sustainable solution to keep medical equipment functional and ultimately improve health outcomes. As medical technology becomes increasingly complicated to operate and repair, the need for highly trained medical technicians is fundamental for hospitals and clinics worldwide.
MedShare's Biomedical Equipment Training & Repair Service has an immediate and significant impact on strengthening and sustaining global health systems. Our team of professionally trained biomedical engineers and technicians service all medical equipment before delivery and work closely with equipment manufacturing partners to provide hands-on training to over 2,500 students enrolled in Georgia and California technical institutions.
Additionally, we send biomedical engineers to under resourced countries to provide pre-assessments and hands-on training to end-users, engineers, technicians, and healthcare professionals. MedShare has trained over 7,000 engineers, technicians, and end-users on how to properly repair and maintain biomedical equipment.
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