smith village donates hospital beds

A construction crew from Weis Builders works with a team from Smith Village to pack beds and mattresses into a 40-foot container to be shipped to Honduras. Smith Village worked with Brother’s Brother Foundation, of Pittsburgh, Pa., to handle the logistics and transportation of the donation.

Valued at more than $20,000, a recent donation of 33 high-quality hospital beds from Smith Village will improve the care of patients at clinics and medical centers in Honduras.

Smith Village worked with Brother’s Brother Foundation, of Pittsburgh, Pa., to handle the logistics and transportation of the donation.

As the Smith Village Johanson Wing for skilled-nursing care and rehab residents at the life-plan community is undergoing a $22.3-million modernization, the local not-for-profit decided to upgrade beds for short-term stay rehab patients from the standard 36-inch-wide beds to 42 inches wide, the width commonly used in hospitals today.

As a result, administrators had beds in excellent condition and less than 10 years old that needed a new home.

“We could have hauled them to the scrapyard, but the beds have significant value,” said Chris August, corporate environmental and safety director, who estimated that the current value of the beds is $21,450. When purchased new, 33 beds of that quality cost nearly $40,000.

“We are a not-for-profit organization, so helping people is part of our mission and our culture,” August said. “If we can use our resources to help other organizations with fewer resources, we do that.”

Brother’s Brother, founded in 1958, is dedicated to facilitating in-kind donations around the world in the areas of healthcare, infrastructure, disaster response and education. In 2019, the foundation arranged for in-kind donations to 67 countries focusing on areas of greatest need in South and Central America, the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia as well as domestic areas.

Liam Carstens, director of Brother’s Brother Foundation programs, worked with its team of partner organizations to make sure that the beds could be donated where they would be of most use. After confirming a beneficiary for the beds, the foundation collaborated with Food for the Poor in Coconut Creek, Fla., which arranged to ship the beds to Cepudo, Honduras. There, the beds will be given to local clinics, hospitals or retirement homes. 

“We are so grateful to Smith Village and organizations like this senior-living community that take the extra steps to donate equipment,” said Carstens. “These three dozen beds will have usefulness for years to come. It is particularly touching that even in this time of COVID-19, when everyone is struggling, the people at Smith Village were still looking for ways to help others.”

Once the logistics were arranged, August worked with his team at Smith Village and the construction crew from Weis Builders to pack the beds and mattresses into a 40-foot container to be shipped to Central America.

They stacked beds five high, filling the container, tied them together and used mattresses to fill the voids. They removed the footboards and headboards from each bed and packed them in a single heavy crate that anchored the section closest to the doors of the container so that the beds wouldn’t move in shipment. The driver for Grand Alliance stood at the ready to start the beds on their journey.

The donation required some commitment. Planning and loading took approximately 71 hours of staff time by Smith Senior Living and Smith Village employees, as well as the use of a forklift from Weis Builders and a tractor from Smith Village.

“We were pleased to dedicate resources to ensuring that these beds could be donated,” said Smith Senior Living President and CEO Kevin McGee. “As a not-for-profit organization since 1924, the spirit and values of our community motivates us to use our resources wisely and share them when they can be repurposed by another like-minding group.”

Smith Village is planning a second collaboration with Brother’s Brother Foundation to donate 60 hospital beds in 2021, when the second and final phase of the modernization of Smith Village begins.

Smith Village, 2320 W. 113th Pl., in Morgan Park, is home to 255 adults, 62 years and older.

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