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YON 2020 Day 43: GCNA's Overseas Outreach

Outside of work commitments, nurses provide an enormous amount of volunteer service. This story highlights the Greater Cleveland Nurses Association's outreach activities.

Nurses serve communities in a variety of ways-not only providing direct care, but also in active volunteer roles. The Greater Cleveland Nurses Association (GCNA), the local arm of the Ohio Nurses Association (ONA) and American Nurses Association (ANA), is proud to have an on-going relationship with MedWish, an international non-profit organization providing humanitarian aid to individuals and organizations caring for people in developing countries.

Our relationship with MedWish was organized by Emily Adkinson, BSN, RN, CCRN. Emily is a registered nurse in the Adult ICU Float Pool at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center. She works in all six intensive care units that are located at UH. She was awarded a GCNA new member scholarship for her proposal to volunteer with MedWish and coordinate a regular schedule for GCNA members.


MedWish was founded in 1993 by a Cleveland physician who had observed the great need for medical supplies and equipment during a mission trip. MedWish receives donations of unused supplies from local health care offices and facilities. Volunteers then inspect, sort, and package the supplies, which can be requested by any non-profit organization in need. Since its inception, MedWish has donated supplies to 114 counties. In 2019 alone, MedWish sent 146 shipments to countries such as Kenya, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic.

In addition to arranging monthly volunteer dates with MedWish, Emily has collaborated with Student Nurse Associations from many colleges and universities to participate with GCNA. She frequently volunteers on her own at MedWish; sometimes after working a night shift. Emily also exemplifies the commitment of nurses serving the public as an Ensign in the U.S. Navy Reserves Nursing Corps.


From Emily Adkinson’s perspective, “GCNA is not only a powerful organization, but extremely personable. Since this organization is local, I am a part of a professional nursing organization with nurses that are very knowledgeable about healthcare, specifically in the Cleveland area. I have met with and learned from nurses who are in different stages of their careers. This has truly aided me to develop professionally as a new nurse. GCNA continuously updates its’ members to stay current on multiple aspects of healthcare such as political issues and successes in the field. This organization has given me the opportunity and ability to improve the quality of healthcare in a hospital setting as well as in the community.”

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