A Portland-based nonprofit is ramping up efforts to provide much needed medical supplies and equipment to humanitarian relief organizations in Ukraine that have been overwhelmed by the Russian invasion.

Partners for World Health, established in 2009 by Elizabeth McLellan, launched an emergency appeal for medical supplies for Ukraine on March 2.

“We’ve seen a great response locally and regionally,” Paul Golding, the organization’s director of development and communications, said Tuesday night during a phone interview. “It has been a whirlwind couple of weeks.”

Partners for World Health routinely collects unused medical supplies and equipment that would otherwise be thrown away from healthcare facilities, manufacturers and individuals. The organization sorts, repackages and prepares the supplies, and sends them to individuals, communities, healthcare facilities and developing countries that can use them. Since 2009, the group has collected more than 2 million pounds of medical supplies that would otherwise have been discarded.

Though it’s based in Portland, Partners for World Health operates seven warehouses throughout New England. It employs 10 staff and relies on 120 volunteers, according to Golding.

Golding said volunteers loaded a tractor-trailer truck by hand Tuesday, filling it from floor to ceiling with 22,000 pounds of boxed medical equipment that included surgical instruments, scanners, defibrillators and imaging equipment. The supplies will be loaded onto a ship that will travel to a port in Poland. Those supplies will then be trucked into Ukraine, avoiding Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea, which are under siege by the Russian military.


Last week, the group sent a container by air to Lviv, Ukraine, filled with 26 pallets of essential medical supplies. Most were for wound care, Golding said. Another shipment of supplies is expected to be airlifted next week.

Partners for World Health is getting supply requests from two nongovernmental relief organizations based in Ukraine, including an organization called Razom, Golding said. He said that Partners for World Health Chief Operating Officer Julie Nelson Forsyth arranged the overseas air and vessel shipments.

In 2007, McClellan, the Partners for World Health founder, started collecting discarded medical supplies from the hospital in Maine where she worked. She started placing collection boxes in hospital departments asking that nurses and housekeeping staff save medical supplies in rooms of discharged patients. Once a patient has been discharged, any supplies left behind are discarded as waste.

In 2009, McClellan rented storage space and with volunteer help moved more than 11,000 pounds of medical supplies and equipment – wheelchairs, crutches, wound care materials, gauze, syringes, tape, diapers, gowns and alcohol wipes – out of her home.

For more information on how to contribute to Partners for World Health’s relief efforts in Ukraine, go to partnersforworldhealth.org.

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