HomeNewsFeaturesDisplay

Excess mattresses help Kyrgyz hospitals in need

Tech. Sgt. Kenneth Puchtler helps transfer mattresses to Counterpart International Incorporated, a community and humanitarian assistance program, at Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan, June 10. More than 300 mattresses were donated and will help six hospitals in nearby capitol of Bishkek. Sergeant Puchtler is an assistant utility team crew chief with the 376th Expeditionary Force Support Squadron.(U.S. Air Force photo/MSgt. Charles M. Wade)

Tech. Sgt. Kenneth Puchtler helps transfer mattresses to Counterpart International Incorporated, a community and humanitarian assistance program, at Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan, June 10. More than 300 mattresses were donated and will help six hospitals in nearby capitol of Bishkek. Sergeant Puchtler is an assistant utility team crew chief with the 376th Expeditionary Force Support Squadron.(U.S. Air Force photo/MSgt. Charles M. Wade)

MANAS AIR BASE, Kyrgyzstan -- The 376th Expeditionary Force Support Squadron donated more than 340 twin-size mattresses June 10 to a community and humanitarian assistance program, who will distribute them to Bishkek hospitals.

The mattresses came from the 376th EFSS lodging operation. While the mattresses are still in good condition, they were no longer needed and were due to be disposed. Working with Counterpart International Inc., the Defense Logistics Agency, the State Department and both the U.S. and Kyrgyz Embassies made this $13,000-plus humanitarian assistance program effort happen.

All the organizations worked together to find Counterpart International Inc., a non-profit organization that has worked in more than 65 countries. The non-profit organization helped facilitate the process and coordinated with representatives from hospitals in Bishkek.

"They can sponsor projects where excess Department of Defense property that would otherwise be disposed of (is given) to those who may need it," said Mr. Victor Ambegia, a defense service representative for the Defense Logistics Agency.

"This (donating the mattresses) is a good thing, and it will help out our local community," said Master Sgt. Leslie Stivers, utility team crew chief with the 376th EFSS, who helped in the transferring process. Sergeant Stivers and his team made several trips with two flat-bed trucks loaded with the mattresses to be delivered.

A representative from one of the hospitals in Bishkek, who participated in the exchange at the main gate, explained where the mattresses would be going.

"We have 1,150 beds at our National Hospital so we will need these mattresses in many of our departments for our patients," said Tolkun Maldybaeva, a chief nurse at the National Hospital of Bishkek. "We are so glad to have this help from the base," she said.

Before the mattresses were transferred, a process was started to see if the mattresses were needed at other DOD facilities, then the cost analysis of transferring or destroying the mattresses was calculated. Finally, the process of donating excess materials or scrap to outside organizations for humanitarian purposes was considered.

"This is a great way to get rid of excess material and it saves the environment," said Mr. Ambegia. "It's a win-win situation; we help out our community and save the government money," he said.

Counterpart International Inc. has worked with the base to donate supplies, materials and food on several other occasions.

"Our organization and the State Department worked together to make sure this transfer could take place," said Mr. Rashid Shimarov, program manager with Counterpart International Inc. "Our organization has worked with the base before, after the earthquake in 2008. Food, bottled water and blankets were donated."

Although the donated mattresses is just a small fraction of what the hospitals need, the exchange was yet another great opportunity for Manas AB to help out the community.