Volunteers step up to help after Kentucky floodsAug. 18, 2022, 8:37 AM
by Kathy Whitney
Jessica Marlin, senior clinical trials operations manager at VUMC, and her husband volunteer with Meridzo Ministries in Eastern Kentucky. When Marlin read the news of the devastating flood that wreaked havoc in the area and caused multiple fatalities in late July, she called the ministry to ask how they could assist with flood relief.
“Knowing my affiliation with Vanderbilt, one of the ministry directors asked if Vanderbilt might be able to assist with providing supplies as the vast majority of clinics had been wiped out in the flooding,” Marlin said. “After reaching out to various contacts, I was led to the Shade Tree Clinic by my director. I contacted Shade Tree co-executive directors, James Jordano and Shauna McLaughlin, who were extremely helpful. I was able to provide them with a list of needs and contact information for delivery.”
Jordano and McLaughlin, fourth-year Vanderbilt medical students, quickly reached out to fellow VUSM student, Thomas Ueland, who leads the REMEDY group with classmate Arulita Gupta. REMEDY (Recovering Medical Equipment for the Developing world) is a student-run club (that is part of the national REMEDY organization) that collects unused surgical supplies from VUMC’s operating rooms and laboratories and sends them to developing countries in need. So far this year, the group has collected over 12,000 medical supplies and has worked closely with VUMC-sponsored global health trips to distribute these items.
“James reached out to us about the floods and need for supplies in Kentucky. He put us in touch with Tammy Collett, RN, at Mountain Comprehensive Health Care, who was able to get us connected for a drop off in Lexington,” Ueland said. “As I am originally from Lexington, it worked out perfectly, and we were able to drive the supplies there.”
“As always, Shade Tree was fantastic from start to finish in making this happen.”
Together, Shade Tree and REMEDY provided hand sanitizer, alcohol pads, and 23g and 25g needles. And it started with a phone call from a VUMC employee to a VUSM medical student with the simple question: can you help?
“We hope to make further contributions in the future as we gather more available supplies,” Jordano said.
Marlin traveled to Neon, Kentucky, to help deliver supplies and food to the hard-hit community.
“Neon was completely devastated by the flood, just like many other communities,” she said. “Supplies coming into other locations are also being delivered to them. So many people are displaced with nowhere to go. Roads are falling in. It looks like a war zone.”