Medical relief agency opens in Green Tree

Published Sep 25, 2013 at 11:23 am (Updated Sep 25, 2013 at 11:23 am)

Global Links has moved to Green Tree and the international medical relief agency based in Pittsburgh will celebrate the opening of its new world headquarters at 700 Trumbull Drive with an 11 a.m. ribbon cutting ceremony Oct. 4. Facility tours will also be given.

A free community day celebration is planned for Oct. 5 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Music, entertainment, crafts for children, an international shopping village, tours of Global Links’ new facility and volunteer center and food trucks, including Pittsburgh Taco Truck, Nakama, Randita’s and Street Foods will be featured.

Global Links is dedicated to improving health in resource-poor communities while reducing medical waste. The corporation provides a socially and environmentally beneficial alternative to sending tons of still-useful materials to landfills.

Global Links’ new site will house all operations. It will include space for processing, repair and packing of materials; a dedicated area for educational activities and training; an expansive warehouse for storage and distribution; multiple loading docks; and administrative offices, all in one location.

The move will enable the 24-year-old nonprofit to more than double its capacity to collect, refurbish and provide surplus medical supplies and equipment to resource-poor countries and to local organizations seeking assistance. Nearly all of the more than 250 tons of medical surplus and supplies gathered by Global Links from hospitals, nursing homes, health centers and community collections each year would otherwise be destined for landfills.

“The United States is among the world’s leading healthcare providers, yet our medical innovation comes at a cost,” says Global Links co-founder and CEO Kathleen Hower. “In the quest for continual improvement—in treatment, technology, cost, regulation and infection control—tons of serviceable medical supplies enter the waste stream each year, mainly into landfills.”

According to Hower, these items range from gloves, sutures, scissors, gauze and bandages, to equipment including beds, wheelchairs, exam tables and patient monitors.

“The booming healthcare industry in Western Pennsylvania makes our region particularly vulnerable to this kind of environmental burden,” she said. Global Links was founded to improve outcomes for people living in abject poverty and to protect our local environment so that no one dies for lack of what we throw away.”

Founded in 1989, Global Links was the first organization in the country with a mission to recover and strategically reuse surplus hospital supplies. It is still a leader in the field. For the last four years, Global Links has won the “Champion for Change Environmental Excellence Award” from Practice Greenhealth, the nation’s leading membership organization for healthcare leaders committed to environmentally responsible practices.

“The bulk of our donations improve healthcare conditions in Latin America and the Caribbean, including the six poorest nations in our hemisphere: Honduras, Haiti, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Guyana and Bolivia,” says Mimi Falbo, Global Links board chair. “In these countries, basic medical supplies are often unavailable, or not affordable. Doctors and nurses must make do—washing and reusing ‘disposable’ gloves, for example, or substituting fishing line or sewing thread for sutures, which increases the risk of infection and possible death. In many countries, patients often share beds or sleep on mattresses on the floor, while family members must hold bags for want of intravenous poles.”

For more information, visit or call 412-361-3424.

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