Sisters of Providence Health System, a Seattle-based Roman Catholic healthcare system, has agreed to donate medical supplies and equipment to needy hospitals and medical clinics overseas.
The system, which operates 26 hospitals and long-term-care facilities, will give the supplies to the Catholic Medical Mission Board for shipment and free distribution.
Sisters of Providence is the first healthcare system to organize a joint effort among all its hospitals to donate medical supplies to the New York-based CMMB, said Michael McCauley, a board spokesman.
The board has previously partnered with pharmaceutical companies to donate specific drugs like insulin. Donations have also come to CMMB sporadically from individual hospitals or pharmacy companies. Some donors have given money to purchase specific equipment.
Through donations from Sisters of Providence that will be valued in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, the CMMB hopes to make at least two annual shipments of medical supplies in huge 2,560-square-foot containers, McCauley said. Exact contents are to be determined.
A part of Sisters of Providence's mission is to help make healthcare available to needy people in other parts of the world.
The CMMB, founded in 1928 to help hospitals in Haiti, now ships more than $43 million worth of medicine and supplies to 2,000 local health organizations in Cuba and in more than 50 countries in Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe. It also recruits physicians to volunteer overseas, provides training for healthcare staff in the developing world and financially supports health projects worldwide.
The CMMB is negotiating with another healthcare system to arrange another agreement like the one with Sisters of Providence, but it would not release the name of the system.
McCauley said he believes similar systemwide donations will be a growing trend, not just among Catholic systems.
"All of a sudden it's beginning to make sense to these systems for all of their members to contribute to an international effort," he said.