Jan 17, 2013 1:00 PM by Lauren Molenburg
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (AP) - Over the course of 25 years, Dr. James W. Jackson has turned a small operation collecting donated medical items in his garage in Evergreen into one of the world's largest nonprofits focused on medical equipment and supply delivery to poor nations.
Jackson's Project CURE (Commission on Urgent Relief and Equipment) now has five distribution facilities and 13 collection centers, including one in Grand Junction. Jackson visited that 4-year-old collection center recently during an open house and luncheon for the project's 10 regular Western Slope volunteers.
"It's so exciting to see this all happen," Jackson said, motioning to a pile of donations in the warehouse. "(If not for Project CURE), eventually this all would've ended up in a landfill."
Instead, volunteers will sort the discarded walkers, unused dressing, aging diagnostic machines and other sterile but unwanted items local hospitals would have otherwise tossed into boxes of like items and ship them to a Project CURE distribution center in Denver.
There, volunteers will bundle items into shipping containers and send them to health clinics in some of the 122 countries served by Project CURE.
Jackson or his associates visit each country pre-donation to assess recipient hospitals, decide which supplies and equipment will meet their needs, and fill shipping containers based on those needs.
The assessment trips also help build trust and diplomatic relationships so volunteers can get in and out of sometimes dangerous countries safely while ensuring supplies get into the right hands.
Rotary clubs and other groups raise money to ship the containers of medical items for a 2 percent overhead.
So far, Grand Junction's collection center has contributed an estimated $6.4 million in donated medical supplies and equipment from St. Mary's Hospital, Community Hospital, Family Health West and other practices to be sent to 39 countries.
Local physician Dr. Rebecca Mashburn and her husband, Jay, started up Grand Junction's collection efforts in 2008, a year after the couple asked Project CURE to deliver supplies to a Nepalese hospital where Mashburn had worked from 1995 to 2000. She said it "felt kind of awkward" to ask the nonprofit for help when Grand Junction wasn't participating in the donation process, so the Mashburns decided to change that.
"Once St. Mary's said they would donate to Project CURE, we started collecting items in our garage," Rebecca Mashburn said.
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