AAMI News September 2017

Tech World: HTM Department Works on 'Cure' for Global Device Challenge

Participants in Advocate Health Care’s latest Project C.U.R.E. Day. Left to right: Alfonso Mercado, Julian Motino, Steve Vanderzee, Greg Czaka, Shaun O’Hara, and Damian Lesnicki.

Steve Vanderzee is director of clinical engineering for Advocate Health Care in Oak Brook, IL.

For the past two years, members of the Clinical Engineering Department at Advocate Health Care in Chicago, IL, have been supporting our local Project C.U.R.E. operation by testing and repairing medical devices that have been donated to the organization.

Project C.U.R.E. (Commission on Urgent Relief and Equipment) is a charity that focuses on delivering critical medical supplies and equipment to hospitals, rural clinics, and community health centers in developing countries. Each year, the organization delivers more than 180 cargo containers filled with equipment worth more than $50 million to approximately 50 countries.

I first heard about Project C.U.R.E. in 2015 when our local healthcare technology management (HTM) society, the Clinical Engineering Association of Illinois, had a chapter meeting at its newly opened Chicago-based distribution center. We learned much more about Project C.U.R.E.’s mission and work in countries such as Armenia, Guatemala, Indonesia, India, Ghana, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

After my initial visit, I realized there was an opportunity for Advocate Health Care to establish a more formal partnership with Project C.U.R.E. So, I set up our first one-day event in December 2015 where a number of my staff tested and repaired donated medical devices.

Since that first Project C.U.R.E. Day, we have held nine events. This year our goal is to organize four. Each full-day event typically consists of about four to eight HTM professionals verifying, testing, and repairing medical devices. During our last event, which took place on May 9, we tested and validated four anesthesia units, seven tabletop centrifuges, two tabletop autoclaves, four infant warmers, several vital signs monitors, and a lot of operating room lights. Those devices have since shipped to Tanzania, Comoros, and Nigeria.

All of the members of my staff who have participated have liked being able to have a direct impact on supporting a worldwide need. Once they take part in a Project C.U.R.E. Day, they’re hooked. Being able to see how the equipment is used and knowing you are ensuring it will be operational once it gets to its final destination is a very satisfying feeling.

Volunteering with an organization like Project C.U.R.E. is also an excellent opportunity for students to get hands-on experience and learn more about medical devices. I actually recruited one of the volunteers at the Chicago distribution center for my department.

Project C.U.R.E. is always looking for new volunteers, so I hope you will consider reaching out to see what assistance you or your organization might be able to provide.

Volunteers are needed to support Project C.U.R.E.’s U.S.-based operations at one of its six distribution centers—located in Denver, CO; Houston, TX; Nashville, TN; Philadelphia, PA; and Phoenix, AZ, in addition to the one here in Chicago. Project C.U.R.E. also is recruiting HTM professionals for five- to seven-day trips to install donated medical equipment and support staff in healthcare facilities overseas.

For more information or to become a volunteer, you can contact Jennifer Manhoff, Project C.U.R.E.’s director of clinics and training programs, at jennifermanhoff@projectcure.org.