Imagine delivering healthcare to places such as Afghanistan, Haiti and Zimbabwe. From a distance, that's just what RENEW project volunteers do.
RENEW stands for Recovering Equipment for Nations Everywhere. It is a joint project between the students of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and UCLA Health, aimed at reducing medical waste by providing unused medical supplies from the UCLA Health System to UCLA-sponsored, global-health missions.
"We coordinate the collection of supplies from the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and the distribution of these supplies to UCLA-based volunteer groups and individuals traveling abroad to deliver healthcare to underserved regions," says Megan Trieu, a RENEW general coordinator and a third-year medical student at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.
Delivering life-saving tools
Megan learned about RENEW during her first year of medical school. Having previously volunteered abroad with mobile clinics in Peru, she had witnessed firsthand the dire need for basic medical supplies.
"I became interested in getting involved because I believe RENEW's mission is invaluable in helping bridge the health-resources gap in our developing world," Megan explains. "RENEW's work empowers doctors and other healthcare professionals by giving them the tools they need to save lives."
When supplies change at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, the nurses collect the overflow supplies on each floor. The supplies are then shipped to a warehouse in Santa Monica. When UCLA students, faculty or staff need supplies for non-profit medical missions, they submit a request on the RENEW website.
"That request must be approved by three members of the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center RENEW board and three members of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA RENEW board," Megan says. "This process is facilitated by a RENEW general coordinator, like myself. After the request is approved, a distribution coordinator contacts the requester to set up a time to meet at the warehouse and pick up their supplies."
The rewards of reducing medical waste
Megan says that RENEW has been rewarding in many ways. She's enjoyed working alongside the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center nurses to facilitate global heath missions, and she finds it gratifying to hear stories from her classmates who have used RENEW supplies during their global-heath missions.
"RENEW is a fantastic opportunity for students who are interested in global health," affirms Megan. "It allows us to get involved in reducing waste and facilitating UCLA-sponsored, global-health missions."
By Emily Williams