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NH Rotarians help organize shipment of medical aid

Union Leader Correspondent

April 14. 2013 11:35PM
Emma Maleskey, 10, right, of Lee and Amber Dickinson, 12, of Raymond clean medical equipment at the International Medical Equipment Collaborative in North Andover, Mass. on Saturday. Some of the equipment will soon be sent to a hospital in Lahore, Pakistan thanks to the help of New Hampshire Rotary Clubs. (GRETYL MACALASTER PHOTO)

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. - United Christian Hospital in Lahore, Pakistan, was a modern hospital in 1947.

But today, much of its equipment is out-of-date, and the hospital, which largely serves Lahore's poorest residents, has no money to replace it.

Raymond Area Rotarian Steve Puderbaugh and his wife, Deb, saw first hand the need when they paid a visit to Pakistan about a year and a half ago.

Puderbaugh is a veterinarian and quite familiar with the work of rehabbing American, human medical equipment for re-use.

So 15 years ago, through Rotary, he began work with IMEC, the International Medical Equipment Collaborative.

The nonprofit organization started in Seabrook but has moved several times since president Tom Keefe started it in his garage 19 years ago.

Today, IMEC occupies a 250,000 square foot warehouse space in North Andover, Mass., where rows and rows of medical equipment are cataloged, sorted, rehabbed and shipped as suites in giant containers to medical facilities large and small in more than 88 countries around the world.

UCH will soon be one of those facilities thanks to the work of local Rotary Clubs, including Nashua, Raymond and the Lakes Region that are in the process of organizing shipment of a 40-foot container full of medical equipment destined for the hospital.

IMEC's delivery system allows those receiving the equipment on the other end the ability to immediately set up entire patient rooms, surgical rooms, administrative offices and labs.

More than 250 hospitals around New England participate in the program, which also reduces carbon footprints through recycling instead of trashing old equipment.

On Saturday, the Puderbaughs and a group of Rotarians from around the state, as well as members of the Candia Congregational Church sorted lighting devices and other endoscopy equipment while another group sorted and cleaned microscopes and glass beakers in the massive IMEC warehouse.

Thousands of volunteers keep the organization running.

"It's an opportunity to give time and some talent to something other than ourselves," pastor Bryan Moore said.

"And it's also very tangible service work, it's going to help people, and it connects us with other parts of the world."

Rotarian Cassandra Bradley of Center Harbor has traveled to several developing nations, including India and Honduras, and said it taught her a new definition of poverty.

She said if people do not have money, they simply do not receive medical care.

"We have safety nets that developing countries don't have," Bradley said. "If you have no money (in Honduras) you can't just walk into a hospital and ask to be treated."

She said because of this, the equipment provided by IMEC goes a long way.

David Countway of Alton and his wife also visited Pakistan and UCH this past fall.

As he worked away on Saturday, he said no matter where the equipment he organized at IMEC was going, it was the right place.

"It's destined to fill a need in whatever corner of the world it's going to be sent to," Countway said.

Health Human Interest New Hampshire Photo Feature