Seeking a meaningful way to give back during the holiday season, Tajwar Khan, Regional Director of Operations for Crothall Healthcare Technology Solutions (HTS), found the perfect match at a clinical engineering conference in Illinois in fall 2023. Project C.U.R.E., the largest distributor of donated medical equipment to communities in 135 countries, including underserved hospitals in the US, desperately needed specialists who could repair broken anesthesia machines, ventilators, and other critical medical devices.
“My team usually has a holiday dinner to celebrate each other and our accomplishments for the year,” says Khan. “However, this year I wanted to participate in a charity event where we can make a big impact. When I heard about Project CURE’s need for people with the skills we possess, I knew this activity was the right one since it would help so many people in need of medical care.”
In November 2023, a team of 14 HTS employees from our Midwest region went to a massive Project CURE warehouse in Woodbridge, Ill., a Chicago suburb. (See below for a list of all team members). After meeting the warehouse director who guided them to the broken equipment, the team went to work.
With their own tools and testing equipment in hand, the HTS team repaired approximately 50 medical devices over a four-hour period. For example, the broken equipment included three anesthesia machines. Using parts from one machine, biomedical technician Andrew Sorensen, who is highly trained in servicing these devices, completely repaired two of them using parts from the third device. Testing confirmed that the two devices were fully operational.
Other members of the HTS team used their skills to repair additional critically needed equipment. Victor Rojo, resident regional manager at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, and Gary Zajdzinski, a biomed technician III, repaired portable x-ray machines. Other devices repaired and readied for shipment included infant warmers and incubators, patient monitors, bilirubin light phototherapy machines, and automated external defibrillators (AEDs).
“Some of this equipment had been sitting idle for months awaiting the right technical skill set,” said Regional Coordinator Karen Elder. “Our team was quickly able to determine the parts needed to make the equipment operational again and ready them for shipment.”
In addition to their volunteer work, the team donated several medical devices to C.U.R.E. Lisa Ratajczyk, Crothall’s Onsite Director at Methodist Hospital, delivered a generous donation from the hospital of patient monitors and other devices. Lurie Children’s Hospital, another HTS partner, donated several intravenous poles (IV) poles and regularly makes other donations to support Project C.U.R.E initiatives. Khan says leaders in her region continually speak with hospitals to encourage donating equipment to Project C.U.R.E., rather than selling it for a small price.
The equipment repaired by the HTS team will be included in a container with other medical equipment. Each year, Project C.U.R.E. ships approximately 200 40-foot cargo containers carrying between $350,000 – $400,000 worth of donated medical supplies and equipment around the world.
“This is such a unique volunteer project that we hope to make it an annual or semi-annual event,” Khan says. “Project C.U.R.E. is an outstanding organization and with our skill set, we can support them and aid people around the world. Giving back to people not as fortunate as us is the perfect way to show our ties to the holiday spirit.”
The volunteers consisted of HTS associates who work at Methodist Hospitals in Gary and Merrillville, Indiana; Marion General Hospital, Marion, Indiana, and Lurie Children’s Hospital and the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago.
Front row, from left to right: Natsumi Shiotani- Unit Director II, Scott Witterstaetter, Biomedical Technician II; Karen Elder- Regional Coordinator; Victor Rojo, Resident Regional Manager; Janett Fuentes, Imaging Specialist I; Tajwar Khan- Regional Director of Operations- Midwest, and Lisa Ratajczyk- Unit Director II.
Back row, from left to right: Gary Zajdzinski, Biomedical Technician III; Marquis Benton,- Apprentice; Brian Litt- Apprentice; Andrew Sorensen- Biomedical Technician III and Anesthesia Specialist; Brandon Rodriguez, Biomedical Technician I; Jarmaine Strickland, Biomedical Technician III, and Keenan Kozar – Imaging Specialist I.
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