Porting for Patients
In the spring of 2016, I traveled to Nepal with the help of a grant from the American College of Radiology. My goal was to help the department of radiology at the NAMS/Bir hospital in Kathmandu recover after a series of devastating earthquakes.
As part of my effort, I reached out to a medical supply charity called Supplies Over Seas (SOS) located in my hometown of Louisville, Kentucky and was astounded to see how easy it was to get thousands of dollars of donated medical supplies to take with me to Nepal.
The radiology department at Bir Hospital appreciated the supplies and I was very pleased with the fact that I was able to help them in such a way. And so my gears started turning. I started thinking that if only more people did the same thing for smaller hospitals (such as the ones in the Himalayas) it could really make a transformative impact. I decided that I needed to go to the mountains and investigate.
While in Nepal, I rented a room from Birendra Chudal, who ran a Himalayan trekking company named Adventure Club Trek and Expedition. He not only was a gracious host but also helped me organize a custom trek to visit some of the rural hospitals in the Everest region to research the state of provision delivery in these more remote facilities.
During my trek through the Everest region, the idea for “Porting for Patients” (P4P) began to come together. Porting for Patients would function as an intermediary to help coordinate the delivery of necessary provisions to some of the most isolated hospitals in world by taking advantage of unused visitor cargo. I visited two hospitals in the Himalayas and spoke to the doctors there about the P4P idea and gathered their contact information. Upon my return to Kathmandu, I negotiated the specifics surrounding the transport of supplies to these areas.
It isn’t much of a company as much as me and a website. The website acts as a way for laypeople/tourists who want to help a Himalayan hospital to get in touch with me. I help them coordinate the acquisition of donated supplies from SOS which are appropriate for a particular Himalayan hospitals’ current needs (I email the hospital and ask what they currently need and forward that to request to SOS on behalf of the participant.)
The participant can take these supplies to Nepal. From there, Birendra takes over and sets up the transport of these supplies to the Himalayan hospital. I do not take any money for my part in coordinating this effort. The participants pay Supplies Over Seas and Birendra for their respective services.
That is the basic idea. Right now I am in the process of coordinating our first request for supplies.
Check out the new Porting for Patients website for more details!
Wojciech Kapalczynski, M.D. is a 4th year resident at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, Texas and was the recipient of the 2015 Goldberg-Reeder Resident Travel Scholarship.