Project C.U.R.E.

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Project C.U.R.E. is the largest provider of donated medical supplies and equipment to developing countries around the world. Arizona’s Executive Director for Project C.U.R.E. Katie Mabardy talks about the organization and its efforts to collect medical supplies to send to doctors treating patients with the Ebola virus.


José Cárdenas: Project C.U.R.E. is the largest provider of donated medical supplies and equipment to developing countries around the world. The organization is also doing its part to contain the Ebola outbreak with efforts right here in the valley. Katie Mabardy, Arizona's executive director for Project C.U.R.E. is here to talk about the efforts and the organization. Thanks for joining us.

Katie Mabardy: Thank you, Jose.

José Cárdenas: Let's talk first about what the organization does, normally I know Arizona is one of the areas where there's a lot of activity.

Katie Mabardy: Yeah. So as you mentioned, Project C.U.R.E. is the world's largest distributor of medical donated medical supplies, and equipment to developing countries. So we have locations throughout the United States, and Tempe is one of them. We have a big distribution center right here. And we collect medical supplies from our local health care community. And our volunteers then take that supply, they sort them, they pack them, and then we load them on big 40-foot containers.

José Cárdenas: We've got pictures we're going to put on the screen while we're talking of those efforts. Container trucks, the warehouses and so forth, that's activity going on in Arizona and similar sites across the country. Where do you get the supplies? They're donated, where do they come, from hospitals or what?

Katie Mabardy: We partner with big health care systems, so right here we partner with all the local hospitals, all the banner hospitals, dignity, every single one of them. And they collect medical surplus. So new and unused medical supplies and equipment, they collect it for us, then they give us a call and we go and pick them up. So we have volunteers that drive all around the valley, they go to every health care facility, they also will visit local doctors' offices, even big medical manufacturing companies will partner with them, for example, Covidien just delivered 26 palettes of medical supplies to our warehouse. Marathon is sending another shipment that we should get, we're going to get masks and gloves. So we partner with big medical manufacturing companies down to even the single doctor's office.

José Cárdenas: The last picture we had on the screen was the other end of that process, the delivery to countries I that I was a picture of a delivery in Africa. How do you ensure that what's needed gets delivered?

Katie Mabardy: So our process, we are really focused on creating sustainable health care infrastructure change. So what we do is we go and visit these hospitals all around the world, and we work in 130 -- Over 130 countries, and so we walk through the hospital, we talk to the doctors, we talk to the nurses and the health care administrators, administers of health, and we really try to dial into what they need, what their specific requests are. Because the communities we work in vary. We work in big hospitals, for example, we just shipped two containers to 4,000-bed hospital in Sri Lanka, the needs there are very different than the small rural clinics we're working in in Rwanda, for example. So customizing these containers is an important part of our process. Once we go and do the thorough needs assessment, we come back to the U.S. and that's when we plan the container. We go through our inventory system, we analyze the report, and then we pack the container. And each one of our containers, they're 40 feet, so they're large, and on average they hold around half a million dollars in value of medical product that's customized for that recipient location.

José Cárdenas: As I understand it, one of the large areas of effort for your organization is Mexico. Tell us about your efforts there.

Katie Mabardy: We're actually the largest second largest NGO operating in Mexico. So we work all over the country, we have sent in the last I believe 10 years over $40 million worth of medical supplies and equipment. And Mexico, the cool thing about that is each one of our containers is larger, because it usually comes out of our local warehouse here in Tempe, so instead of our average size, which is about 40, our shipments to Mexico are about 53 feet. So that means they hold on average about a million dollars in value. So we've done a lot of work in Mexico.

José Cárdenas: So the supplies are donated.

Katie Mabardy: Yeah.

José Cárdenas: But you do have costs.

Katie Mabardy: We do.

José Cárdenas: And you need volunteers. Tell us about that.

Katie Mabardy: Yeah. So we're really lean, we operate on less than 2% overhead. But we're -- So in order to do, that we're really dependent on our volunteers. Here locally we have about 6,000 volunteers that come through our warehouse every single year, and they consist of corporate groups, individual groups, individual people, churches, schools, you name it. We get everybody, anybody who's interested and impacting global health. We certainly have an opportunity to volunteer. And our volunteers really run it. We only have 2 1/2 staff that work here locally, so we're very, very dependent on our volunteers.

José Cárdenas: We talked about global operations and the need there, one of them of course right now is the Ebola outbreak. I think that last picture we had on the screen of the container truck was a delivery in Sierra Leone and then we've got pictures of some places that have been impacted by Ebola, including a hospital there where you have provided supplies.

Katie Mabardy: Yeah. So we worked in these countries for almost -- Close to 30 years. So we've been working there a long time. What we're seeing right now is it's very, very devastating for the health care community west Africa. Sierra Leone, we're shipping a contain tore that country tomorrow. Right here from Tempe. And last December our CEO and president Dr. Doug Jackson, visited several hospitals in Sierra Leone to conduct our needs assessment, and did all that.

José Cárdenas: This is one of those hospitals right now.

Katie Mabardy: This is one of them. He since that time, since the Ebola outbreak, the hospital he visited, all the doctors and health care workers are no longer with us today due to the Ebola outbreak.

José Cárdenas: They passed away.

Katie Mabardy: Yeah, they're gone now. So these are friends of ours, people that we are working hard to protect in order to avoid this, these devastating losses. What's happening is now all the health care workers are gone, and the hospital is deserted. People aren't coming there for care. So it's a big problem that we're facing, but the international community is responding, and what's great about it is that project C.U.R.E. is perfectly positioned to respond, because this is what we do every single day, 365 days of the year. So we're happy to at least be able to be part of the solution and part of the support system to those countries.

José Cárdenas: If other people want to be part of the solution, what's the best way to get involved? It is contacting you at the website?

Katie Mabardy: Visit our website, we also have a local Project C.U.R.E. Facebook page. Our greatest need right now in terms of our Ebola effort is we're raising funds to actually ship containers, we're working with a local -- The Liberian association of Arizona here locally, and the vice-president of Liberia to ship containers into that country. And so there's a lot of ways that support project C.U.R.E., if anyone is interested in supporting the Ebola relief, this is a great way to do it. We're able to deliver a 20-1 benefit, so for every dollar that's donated, we can turn that around, that ships $20 worth of medical supplies and equipment. So we're proud of that, and we're really working hard to continue to deliver these critical supplies.

José Cárdenas: Katie Mabardy, Project C.U.R.E., thanks for joining us on "Horizonte" to talk about this this evening.

Katie Mabardy: Thank you.

José Cárdenas: To find out more information about what's on "Horizonte," go to www.azpbs.org and click on the "Horizonte" tab at the top of the screen. There you can access many features to become a more informed "Horizonte" viewer. Watch interviews by click ought video button, or by scrolling down to the bottom of the page, for the most recent segments. Learn about more specific topics like arts and culture and immigration. You can also find out what's on "Horizonte" for the upcoming week. If you would like an RSS feed, a podcast or want to buy a video, that's on our website too. Other features include our collection of website links and a special place for educators. While you're there show your support for "Horizonte" with just one click. Discover all that's on "Horizonte," visit www.azpbs.org/horizonte today.

Katie Mabardy:Arizona's Executive Director, Project C.U.R.E.;

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