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January 11, 2011

UVA Health System Earthquake Relief Efforts

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The Medical Center’s MERCI (Medical Equipment Recovery of Clean Inventory) program is organizing bandages, gauze and other medical supplies to send to Haiti. A Concord, VA-based organization called Gleaning for the World ( ) will pick up the supplies late next week and send them to Haiti along with food, blankets, clothing, hygiene products and other donations. MERCI’s supplies are either things that UVA Medical Center areas can’t use, or they’re donated by other health care providers. The supplies often go to people who are taking medical mission trips to other countries. MERCI also sends a trailer full of supplies to the Remote Area Medical clinic in Wise every year.

Also, MERCI and Health System Community Relations are leading an effort to collect other supplies from UVA hospital employees to go to earthquake victims. The list of requested supplies includes canned foods, powdered milk, rope, tarps, antibiotic skin cream and new clothing. A hospital-wide email went out Thursday asking employees to drop off items in the cafeteria on Jan. 20 and Jan. 21, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Items may also be dropped off at the Charlottesville Fire Department’s headquarters at 203 Ridge Street from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 18-21. These supplies will also be given to Gleaning for the World with the medical items that MERCI is organizing. More information is available at .

Mark Okusa, MD, member of the American Society of Nephrology’s Disaster Relief Task Force, is playing an instrumental role in leading a national effort to coordinate acute kidney dialysis supplies and services to Haitians suffering from crush injuries, as well as the estimated 7,000 Haitian patients already on dialysis. Acute kidney dialysis is of critical importance with this type of disaster — crush injuries cause the body’s muscles to break down and release a protein that’s toxic to the kidney. Because of this, many crush victims are at high risk of renal failure.

UVA Center for Global Health faculty, staff and students have had the privilege to work in Port au Prince, Haiti in partnership with the GHESKIO Centers, a large clinic that has provided care for people living with HIV and other infectious diseases for almost three decades. GHESKIO is in the center of the most devastated area of Port au Prince and has suffered extensive damage. Rebecca Dillingham, MD/MPH, associate director of the UVA Center for Global Health, says the Center and its other partners in the U.S. are asking for donations for GHESKIO’s emergency relief efforts.

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