SRW Accomplishments


Handyman HaeferBy Sylvia Boomsma

"I just fix stuff." That's how Gary Haefer describes his contribution to Sharing Resources Worldwide. The owner of Midwest Biomedical and Scientific Services, Inc., Gary is all about fixing things -- specifically, laboratory equipment and medical machinery in hospitals, nursing homes and clinics. A married father of four, Gary, who's been in his line of work for almost 30 years, travels a lot for his job, but that doesn't discourage him from traveling to Honduras with SRW medical mission teams, something he's done at least five times.

When he's not on a mission trip, he's always willing to lend his time and expertise to SRW here in Madison. He procures needed equipment, often purchasing it himself and donating it. He refurbishes used machines before they're shipped to hospitals or clinics in need. "Whatever they need," Gary says, "I'll buy it, donate it, find it. It only takes a little bit of my time or money. And the rewards are a hundred-fold what I give."

You don't have to know Gary long before you see that he's a get-'er-done kind of guy, and a great asset to SRW. Power failures and equipment malfunctions and losses are a part of almost every trip. Having someone like Gary on the team -- whether here in Wisconsin or on a medical mission -- is a great help.

Gary first heard about SRW from Marge Abegglen, RN, who manages the operating rooms at Beaver Dam Community Hospital, one of Gary's accounts at the time. When a brand new hospital was about to open in Siguatepeque, Honduras, Marge and Gary served as the advance team for an SRW medical mission; it was Gary's first trip. Members of the mission team had purchased plane tickets, and planned to arrive in Siguatepeque to work in the new hospital one week later. All Gary and Marge had to do was make sure the site was ready and everything was set up. But when they arrived, they found a hospital still under construction: it had no doors or windows, no plumbing or electricity. Welders and electricians were at work. There was water on the floor. "We were shocked at how unready everything was. We had sent down operating tables that weighed 1,000 pounds each. There were no trucks, no lifts. We recruited eight guys to move each table. They were all speaking Spanish, and I don't know any Spanish at all. Marge was so afraid someone was going to get hurt. Marge cried a lot during those days. She was the one who had to call Mary to say whether the trip was a go or a no-go. She kept putting off the phone call. I kept telling her we'd get it done, even if we had to work all night. A week after we got there, the medical team was on site, doing surgeries."

A veteran team member, Gary has seen it all and done it all -- from helping to put out a wildfire on the hill behind the hospital in Siguatepeque, to joining a crew of 10-20 local men putting in telephone poles. "I do everything," Gary says. "Whatever they want me to do." Gary's cool head and know-how have saved the day on more than one medical mission. "You gotta go down there with an open mind. Be ready for anything. It's like a M.A.S.H. unit. You can lose power at any time and you gotta improvise. The medical teams are always cool and relaxed. Mary somehow picks people who can adapt. She's a great leader. I' privileged to know the doctors, nurses, dentists, and others who make up the teams. At first I went as a favor, but when you see the results first hand, you want to help. I'm glad to be a part of it. I see the kids and the smiles on their faces. The team does so much more than I do. I just fix stuff."

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