Regulations doom medical supply charity
Read this article for free:
Already have an account? Log in here »
To continue reading, please subscribe:
Monthly Digital Subscription
$4.75 per week*
- Enjoy unlimited reading on winnipegfreepress.com
- Read the E-Edition, our digital replica newspaper
- Access News Break, our award-winning app
- Play interactive puzzles
*Billed as $19.00 plus GST every four weeks. Cancel anytime.
Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 04/09/2009 (5020 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
WINNIPEG — A Winnipeg-based international aid agency that sends surplus medical equipment to Third World communities says it will close its doors following a decision by the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority to stop providing it with equipment.
Over the past seven years International HOPE Canada has sent 25 40-foot containers filled with hospital beds, crutches, canes, wheelchairs, unused sutures and bandages overseas to community hospitals in the Third World.
Roma Maconachie says all the work will end because its principal suppliers — hospitals and facilities operated by the WRHA — have been instructed to stop the practise.
"If the WRHA can’t be persuaded to change its position, then our work will cease and all this equipment will end up as waste in a landfill," Maconachie, president of International HOPE Canada, said.
Maconachie said she learned of the WRHA decision indirectly in March, when hospital staff told her they’d been instructed to stop giving the group any equipment. Maconachie said she wrote to WRHA president Brian Postl in March but he never responded. She said she eventually learned from Health Minister Theresa Oswald that the WRHA is concerned it could be legally liable if any of its donated equipment malfunctions.
WRHA spokeswoman Heidi Graham said the health authority supports the work of International HOPE Canada but added that a Health Canada requirement that most donated equipment be labelled and tracked in the event of a recall meant it could no longer provide used or surplus equipment.
"We just don’t have the staff to track this equipment in perpetuity," Graham said. "Otherwise we’d be liable.
"We think the work they do is wonderful but this is a Health Canada issue."
International HOPE Canada was started 10 years ago by a Winnipeg operating room nurse, Phyllis Reader, who took used hospital equipment on medical missions to Third World countries. Maconachie said the agency partners with church and aid groups looking for medical equipment. The Winnipeg agency collects the material and the partner agency pays for the container and all shipping charges.
In the last seven years, Maconachie said International HOPE Canada has sent containers to the Ukraine, Africa, the Caribbean, and the Philippines.
The agency is now readying a container for Nigeria.
The equipment consists of new or old or slightly damaged goods — like hospital beds, stretchers, and canes. The goods are repaired. Maconachie said the agency sometimes received new or unused goods from local facilities that have had to close down rooms or are changing its role.
Maconachie said the agency spent the past six months lobbying provincial and federal officials hoping they would pressure the WRHA to alter its position and decided to go public because it felt it had no alternative.
"We’ve now reached the point that this next container will be one of our last," Maconachie said. "We receive many items from rural RHAs too but we’re concerned that they too will soon follow the WRHA’s decision and we’ll have nothing to ship."