Emma Wosik and volunteers stand in front of boxes of supplies destined for Haiti
Emma Wosik, (R), Sustainability Coordinator with UHN's Energy & Environment team, along with UHN volunteers Matt Zhou (L) and Mark Maulucci, collected hundreds of kilograms of medical supplies for Operation Green. (Photo: UHN)

TeamUHN has stepped up to help support relief efforts in Haiti by donating hundreds of kilograms of medical supplies to the Caribbean country in crisis.

Haiti was hit by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake on Aug. 14, which killed more than 2,200 people, injured thousands of others and left hundreds missing. Two days later, Tropical Storm Grace came ashore, severely hampering rescue efforts. The country, the poorest in the Western Hemisphere, has been struggling with a slow and challenging aid response amid devastated towns and incapacitated hospitals.

The UHN Energy & Environment team's Operation Green – an organization-wide program that collects expired or unused medical supplies to donate to countries in need – quickly sprang to action.

Emma Wosik, Sustainability Coordinator with Energy & Environment, part of Facilities Management – Planning, Redevelopment & Operations (FM-PRO), reached out to UHN departments which have previously supported the program. With the help of Green Team volunteers, she visited sites to collect excess items, including masks, face shields, gowns, bandages, swabs, needles, procedure kits, Betadine, saline bags, suture removal tools, IV drip chambers, interlines and angiocaths, urinary foleys, start kits and tapes.

"Instead of throwing away materials that we can't use … we send them to countries that may not have the same access to supplies as we do," says Emma. "It's always better to find a way to reuse, or in this case, divert an item from the landfill."

Emma then connected with partner organization Not Just Tourists, which arranges the shipment of medical supplies to foreign countries through individual travelers or the organization Canadian Medical Assistance Teams​ via air freight.

"There's a lot of perfectly usable supplies that, for whatever reason, get disposed of and people all over the world desperately need them," says Avi D'Souza, Founder and Program Director with Not Just Tourists. "There's never been a greater need in history [for these supplies] and at the same time supply chains have never been as disrupted."

The supplies collected from TeamUHN were shipped via air freight to Haiti last week. The donation – a total of nearly 550 kilograms (1,200 pounds) of medical supplies – will be used to treat patients with severe wounds and orthopedic injuries related to the earthquake.

"It's just so heartwarming to not only be helping other people, but also using resources that would have otherwise been thrown out," says Emma. "I'm really glad we were able to do this."

Operation Green collects medical supplies on a monthly basis. To donate, contact operationgreen@uhn.ca.

To support the ongoing relief work in Haiti, please consider donating to experienced and established first responder organizations, including:

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