When Laura Lewis received a desperate plea from a pediatric hospital in San Juan, Puerto Rico, she swung into action. Following Hurricane Maria’s devastation of the island, the hospitals were overwhelmed with patients. The challenges of power outages, adequate food and clean water were compounded by the need for both medical and basic supplies, as well as critical care clinicians. Laura, who is director of technology at the Society for Critical Care Medicine (SCCM), is also the Deputy Team Leader of SCCM’s Emergency Response Team and immediately put out a call to her colleagues to render aid.
As SCCM has a long history of assisting in disaster recovery, the team quickly announced the need for volunteers and within 24 hours had over 300 critical care clinicians ready to go to the island. Further, the Society contacted its vendor community and asked them to provide medical supplies which were badly needed and they likewise responded with urgent shipments. This had been the standard way in which SCCM responded when the call for aid came from its members. But as Laura reported to her contact in San Juan and prepared to close the case, an unusual request was made. Could SCCM get non-medical supplies such as diapers, baby food, formula, and other items of need for their pediatric patients?
With support and encouragement from CEO, David J. Martin, Laura set up a wish list on Amazon and sent out a message asking the critical care community to consider donating. The response was amazing. Daily delivery trucks began bringing boxes of all shapes and sizes to SCCM headquarters, sometimes over 1,000 at a time. The staff Emergency Response team rallied the entire SCCM staff who reported to the warehouse and unpacked, sorted and re-boxed tens of thousands of items.
On October 9, 2017, a full tractor trailer load, 23 pallets of baby food, clothing and other essentials, shipped from SCCM’s headquarters headed to San Juan. On October 12, a second tractor-trailer load followed. Laura describes her appreciation for the extraordinary support like this, “The turnout for our call for donations was beyond anything we could have imagined. Co-workers and their families came in on Columbus Day (It’s a holiday for us) to help pack, organize and load the truck. I’m so amazed at the generosity of so many!”
“This big-hearted response is what I’ve come to expect from our association community,” says Sherry Budziak, co-founder of .orgCommunity and CEO of .orgSource. “Ours is a caring group that is eager to do good in the world and to extend a hand to children and others in need.”
The Amazon drive is closed now, but it’s not too late to help. You can make a cash donation by contacting email@example.com or calling 847-827-6888.
The Society of Critical Care Medicine is the world’s largest nonprofit medical organization dedicated exclusively to improving care of the critically ill and injured. With members in more than 100 countries, SCCM is the only organization that represents all professional components of the critical care team. The Society offers a variety of activities that ensure excellence in patient care, education, research, and advocacy.