PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — A Portland-based nonprofit has boxes upon boxes of much needed medical supplies to help Puerto Ricans in crisis.
They just need to find a way to get them there. Partners for World Health (PWH) has five warehouses that are filled with medical items that have been donated by hospitals and individuals around New England.
Those items would have been thrown out, ultimately clogging our landfills.
PWH founder Elizabeth McLellan identifies trouble areas around the world, like Hurricane ravaged Puerto Rico, and then ships them there in large shipping containers.
"Our containers that go are usually 40 feet long, they hold between 12,000 and 15,000 pounds," explained McLellan, "and our thought is that we have boxes and boxes that are already packed and ready to go and that are sitting in our shipping center which is on Canco Road."
The shipping center is the clearinghouse for PWH warehouses filled with medical supplies.
"Over here, in section A, B and C, these are all of the medical supplies that have come in from hospitals, nursing homes, private individuals," McLellan describes, as she takes me through the warehouse on Walch Drive.
What started inside Elizabeth McLellan's Portland home is now filling five warehouses. Medical Supplies: surgical tools, gowns, dressing items that would have been tossed out are instead packed up by volunteers. So they can be shipped off to trouble spots around the world. Their current concern? Hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico.
Watching the devastation on television has fueled PWH volunteer Pip Hennessey’s resolve to organize items to head to areas hit incredibly hard by Hurricane Maria.
"It's just amazing, where do you begin? Where do you begin with all the supplies they need so anything that anyone can do and anything that we can do, is probably going to be a big help."
Another volunteer works on packing other hospital supplies in bags.
"This table here is an assortment of wound care. Four-by-four sponges, two-by-two vaseline gauze, abdominal sponges for wounds and different size tapes."
Most of the volunteers here have medical backgrounds — Elizabeth McLellan was a nurse at Maine Medical Center. Emergencies were her specialty, a condition she recognizes in post-Hurricane Maria Puerto Rico.
"Which, by the way, they're all US citizens, sitting in Puerto Rico,” McLellan emphasizes. “They're our citizens, we should be able to, they are part of our country we should be able to help them … as well as to help the people of Florida. So many people, so many countries, so many parts of our country have been devastated by these hurricanes."
While two of Puerto Rico's hospitals have reopened, they are not at full capacity. Many of their supplies have been heavily damaged or ruined altogether. Partners for World Health says it’s ready to help with twelve to fifteen thousand pounds of packed medical supplies and equipment.
The supplies are all inside this warehouse, enough to send off to Puerto Rico, the islands, even Florida. But what they don't have is the money to cover the cost to get the items there. Once that happens, the supplies can all go to the tens of thousands if not millions of people who most need it.
If you have medical supplies you would like to donate, or if you would like to make a financial donation to help get those supplies to Puerto Rico and the islands, contact Partners for World Health at (207) 774-5555 or www.partnersforworldhealth.org.
Hannaford Supermarket is also helping. We found a donation station inside the Hannaford on Forest Avenue in Portland.
► WATCH: Donating at Hannaford
They are accepting donations. They also are offering to help anyone who wants to buy food and supplies to ship directly to their family and friends in the Caribbean through them.