In January 2019, Laura Gilmour MBA founded HUB Worldwide with the twin goals of bringing surplus supplies to healthcare institutions with shortages thereby increasing the range of care available, and of preventing more degradation of groundwater and the ground itself due to toxin/leachate filled decay of non-organic medical supplies in landfills.
Non-organic medical waste is an immense problem for health care facilities. Most of the materials purchased by US hospitals end up as waste, and this accounts for approximately 2M tons of medical surplus waste every day with a $10 billion annual disposal cost in the US. On average, health care facilities generate up to 25 pounds of waste per day for each patient. Waste management policies provide opportunities for facilities to reduce their environmental footprint as well as their supply chain and waste disposal expenses. There is nothing being done in the greater Birmingham area to reuse these discarded surplus supplies and equipment other than filling up the local landfills.
HUB is dedicated to developing strategies and interventions to improve this flawed environmental situation. We take our role as environmental stewards very seriously. We are the only nonprofit in the state of Alabama that has this mission. Through our services, we aim to redirect a significant amount of surplus medical supplies and equipment targeted to our local landfills toward distribution to those health facilities in need of supplies. This fulfills our twin goals as stated above.
HUB Worldwide’s original focus on communities in need was international.
Our aims were to:
- Establish a donation network between HUB and the in-country local healthcare facilities
- Distribute the donated medical supplies to in-country partner communities on a regular basis
- Provide biomedical training and healthcare education with in-country local partners at the distribution sites
- Provide opportunities for HUB volunteers to help local and international activities and operations
- Develop long-term international projects with continuous monitoring and evaluation
Since our inception, we have sent supplies internationally to Republic of Congo, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Guyana, Kenya, Sudan, and Ukraine.
Major Pivot in 2020
Covid-19 has had a direct impact on our funding and projects this year, but we remain committed to our mission to serve vulnerable populations. Due to travel restrictions and changes in medical supply use and supply chains, HUB has temporarily suspended overseas projects. HUB has intensified its local US mission and is focusing on the needs of rural hospitals and clinics and Federally Qualified Health Centers in Alabama in 2021. We intend to expand our services to other communities in the Southeast that do not have access to adequate medical care or equipment/supplies to serve their populations.
Non-organic decomposition effects on the Environment
In the absence of recycling in many US communities, usable, unexpired medical supplies are routinely disposed of in the trash. This ranges from plastic tubing of all sorts, disposable suture kits, clamps, scissors, to large items such as electronic beds, scanning machines, and wheelchairs. Over time these non-organic materials release toxins, including mercury, arsenic, cadmium, PVC, solvents, acids and lead. Leachate is the liquid formed when waste breaks down in the landfill and water filters through that waste. This liquid is highly toxic and can pollute the land, groundwater and water ways.
It can take centuries for non-organic materials to degrade meanwhile continuously poisoning the ground and ground water of the environment.
Medical Supply Shortages and Health Care Services Delivery.
In many rural and low-income communities, health service delivery facilities are under financed and undersupplied with medical equipment, which results in diminished service delivery. This creates a burden on health care consumers who must travel far for care or do without care. Our aim is to divert medical surplus supplies headed to landfills to a program of redistribution and use by under resourced health facilities serving communities in need. Together with local partner hospitals, health departments, private medical offices, and clinics, HUB has established relationships and commitments enabling us to collect, sort, and redistribute these supplies in a timely manner to the communities of most need.