HOUSTON – Heidy Alvarez studied the spreadsheet she configured to make sure everything was right. Her Monday started early, with a tall task she and her crew could not have been happier to pull off.
“We love what we do and we know that there is purpose in this,” Alvarez said, smiling with a gracious grin. She and her colleagues had just filled a box truck with 1,200 pounds of medical supplies — bound for a seaplane which will take off to the Bahamas. The team had less than 24 hours to conquer the humanitarian hurdle.
“Normally we have several weeks of notice before sending something out,” said Walter Ulrich, president and CEO of Medical Bridges, a local nonprofit that provides medical supplies to communities in need worldwide. This year, that’s amounted to 65 tons of medical supplies to 12 countries.
“With what happened just a few days ago, yesterday we got the list of supplies and so we’ve been rapidly putting them, assembling their shipment today,” Ulrich continued.
After Hurricane Dorian pummeled Grand Bahama and Abaco Islands in the Bahamas, Ulrich said he knew Medical Bridges had to help. The challenge was to figure out a way to get the supplies to medical facilities that need it.
“I was able to get in touch with the deputy director with the health department in the Bahamas. He is a very knowledgeable physician. He and I have been exchanging messages about what their needs are and ended up giving a list of about eight pages of needs,” Ulrich said.
The main hospital on Grand Bahama Island is reportedly unusable and supplies at another on Abaco are depleted. Today’s load included crutches, syringes, gloves, and other essentials.
"If you don't have a fresh clean pair of gloves you have the opportunity for infection or bacterial and in hard-hit areas, there's no way to recover from that,” Ulrich said.
Ulrich’s team filled what it could with the space it has. The seaplane isn’t large enough to transport hospital beds, for instance, although the organization plans to donate those, too.
"We’re delighted to be able to put in extra effort to help them in their hour of need,” Ulrich said, adding the organization welcomes volunteers.
The supplies are donated by various medical offices throughout the Houston area year-round.
The seaplane will depart for Florida Tuesday, from there it will continue to the Bahamas.