Rotary MV finds new use for used medical equipment

Beds and other well-used equipment from the old Martha’s Vineyard Hospital building are no longer of use now that the move to the new $48 million facility is complete. But medical equipment of all kinds is needed in Peru, and with the help of the U.S. Air Force and the Martha’s Vineyard Rotary Club that is where it may next be put to good use.

The man behind the mission to transport medical equipment to Peru is banker and community volunteer Paul Watts of Tisbury, treasurer of the Martha’s Vineyard Rotary Club.

Mr. Watts was part of a group of Island residents who helped organize the hospital fund-raising campaign. During that effort Mr. Watts asked Tim Walsh, hospital chief executive officer, what he planned to do with the equipment from the old building once the new building was complete.

“He said, I guess we will just get rid of it,” Mr. Watts recounted in a telephone conversation. “And I said, how would you like me to save you a lot of time and effort. We’ll get rid of it for you. And he kind of smiled and said, that sounds like a good idea.”

As construction proceeded, Mr. Watts and Mr. Walsh continued to talk. Last week, Mr. Watts and three representatives of the Peruvian military, along with Henry Malaga, president of the San Borja Sur Rotary in Peru, visited Mr. Walsh and described their plans.

Mr. Walsh told The Times that the hospital is compiling a list of surplus equipment. He said providing used medical equipment as part of a Rotary humanitarian program is a good effort to be a part of.

Mr. Watts said most of the equipment would be used to help outfit mobile military medical units intended to provide care in remote locations or in the event of emergencies in a country prone to earthquakes. He said the Peruvian military is engaged in battles with drug smugglers and terrorists in jungle locations and medical care is often difficult to provide.

Mr. Watts said he is expecting to receive whatever the hospital is no longer able to make use of and that includes gurneys, a telemetry system, and old wheelchairs.

Mr. Watts said the equipment would be transported to the Rhode Island Air National Guard 143 Airlift Wing base at Quonset, Rhode Island and transported by C-130 cargo plane to Peru.

There is no specific timetable. Mr. Watts said he is waiting for the dust to settle at the new hospital but hopes to have some idea of what will be available soon.

The shipment would be transported thorough the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Denton Program, which provides free transportation of humanitarian goods to private U.S. citizens and organizations on a space-available basis. The flights provide training missions and flight time for pilots.

The Denton process would involve no shortage of paperwork, but Mr. Watts is unfazed. “Fortunately, we have a gentleman from another the Rotary Club who is in the Air National Guard and has done this for other organizations, so at least we have somebody who knows how to orchestrate this.”

The timing is critical. When a plane is available the material needs to be ready to go. Storage space is limited on both ends.

Mr. Watts has set his sights on one piece of equipment, the hospital’s aged CAT scan machine that was on lease from GE. He hopes to convince GE to let Rotary relieve the corporation of dismantling the machine and moving it off the Island.

“That would be a phenomenal piece of equipment for us to take down to the major Army hospital in Lima, Peru,” Mr. Watts said.

Mr. Watts said it is possible that people would have medical equipment such as crutches or wheelchairs they would like to contribute to the effort. He may be reached at his office at the Edgartown National Bank at 508-627-1137.