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Hudson Valley Community College To Donate Entire Dental Hygiene Clinic to Developing Nations

CONTACT: Eric Bryant, Hudson Valley Community College (518) 629-8071
or Patricia Keefe, IMEC (603) 740-4632

FOR RELEASE: Immediate, Monday, May 21, 2001

When Hudson Valley Community College decided to totally re-equip its 15-year-old Dental Hygiene Clinic, it faced a quandary. What to do with all of the old dental chairs and related equipment?

Enter the International Medical Equipment Collaborative (IMEC), a non-profit organization based in Rollinsford, New Hampshire, that takes this country's less-than-perfect medical equipment and funnels it to some of the most impoverished hospitals and clinics around the world.

Benco Dental Equipment, the company that supplied the community college's new dental hygiene lab, paid for the transportation of the equipment to New Hampshire. After some refurbishing and checks to see if the equipment is in good working order, IMEC will ship the Hudson Valley equipment to Ukraine, Ecuador, Africa, the Dominican Republic or any number of other developing countries.

"Advancing the standard of health care in another country with our excess equipment is a great opportunity," said President John Buono. "We hope that we can continue to supply IMEC with surplus medical equipment in the future."

On Friday, May 11, a Roadway Express truck pulled up to the Fitzgibbons Health Technologies Center on the Hudson Valley campus. Maintenance employees had already begun disassembling the clinic, just three hours after the last patient had left. A day later, 33 complete dental units, as well as dental radiology equipment was on its way to New Hampshire and from there across the globe.

In 1999 alone, IMEC helped equip clinics and hospitals in nearly every corner of the globe: 26 countries from Myanmar to Nicaragua.

"Dental equipment is very much in demand around the world," said Patricia Keefe, who with her husband Tom started IMEC in 1994. "We're grateful to any organization who helps us continue our mission."

IMEC also collects medical books, medical supplies, linens and scrubs for distribution. They currently work almost exclusively with hospitals and clinics in the Northeast and New England but plan to branch out nationwide, if it becomes feasible.

For each project, the collaborative works with a service organization, such as Rotary International, in finding a needy hospital or clinic around the world. They visit each facility to complete an on-site needs assessment. The equipment is then gathered and shipped off in a 40-foot sea container. Keefe estimates the organization ships about one container each week. Representatives of the service organization are charged with shepherding the equipment through customs and to the site. They then work with IMEC to help set up the equipment and train medical staff if necessary.

Three of the dental units from Hudson Valley Community College are being set aside for delivery to Kenya. One of this year's Dental Hygiene program graduates, Ron Otwori, is a native of that country. Otwori hopes to return to Kenya to set up a preventive dental health program and those three chairs may be the start of the first clinic.

Hudson Valley Community College offers more than 50 degree and certification programs in four academic divisions: Liberal Arts and Sciences; Engineering and Industrial Technologies; Health Sciences; and Business; as well as programs run through the Educational Opportunity Center offering certification programs in workforce and academic preparation. One of 30 community colleges in the State University of New York system, it has an enrollment of more than 9,000 students each year, and is known as a leader in distance learning initiatives and worker retraining.