International Aid GE Healthcare Team Up On Equipment Donations

July 9, 2007
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SPRINGLAKE — International Aid and GE Healthcare have created a partnership that allows the SpringLake nonprofit to bring the Wisconsin company's refurbished, used medical equipment to developing nations.

International Aid is expected to send as many as 200 pieces of GE equipment overseas annually, starting with anesthesia machines and ventilators. Eventually, the shipments will include maternal and infant care equipment, patient monitors and ultrasound systems.

"GE could work with anybody they wanted to," said the Rev. Myles Fish, president and CEO of International Aid. "I want our community here in West Michigan to be proud of the fact that GE chose to work with International Aid when they could have worked with anybody. It's really an honor for all of us."

The organization sent almost 1,400 pieces of donated medical equipment around the world in fiscal 2006. Major items are brought to SpringLake, where a staff of five technicians refurbishes them for continued use, Fish said.

"The equipment being traded in is not the newest model but is just as serviceable as the day it was purchased," he said. Refurbishing often includes rewiring the item for use on electrical systems that differ from the U.S., he added.

GE Healthcare will train International Aid's technicians on the use and repair of the machines. International Aid then will train recipients of the items and provide operational and repair manuals. It will also provide spare parts for three years. Over the years, the 27-year-old charity has trained nearly 500 people in 18 countries, including Indonesians working at 32 tsunami-damaged hospitals.

"What we're working towards is not the newest equipment but the most appropriate technology," Fish said. "Equipment coming off-line here in the U.S. is preferable in the situations we work in to the highly computerized equipment being used now. It's less sophisticated, less computer-driven, easier to train people on. The hospitals we're putting this equipment into are nowhere near as sophisticated as hospitals in the U.S.

With headquarters in the United Kingdom, GE Healthcare is a $17 billion unit of the General Electric Co. that employs 46,000 people in more than 100 countries. International Aid had $83.4 million in total support and revenue and $6.2 million in net assets in the fiscal year ending in June 2006, according to the organization's 2006 audit.

"GE Healthcare is continually searching for new ways to extend the reach of our technologies and services," said Omar Ishrak, president and CEO of the company's Clinical Systems unit in Waukesha, Wis. "This innovative partnership gives us the opportunity to bring our global medical technologies to International Aid's global relief solutions."

"Two hundred anesthesia machines are on their way to us; we already have some in our warehouse," Fish added. "Really, the sky's the limit both from their side and from ours. At this point, we're the only one that has entered this kind of agreement with them."

International Aid also works with Spectrum Health, Grand Rapids' largest health care provider, to secure used equipment, Fish added.    

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