Bigger, better, colder: moving lifesaving medicines

When you’re one of the largest providers of humanitarian relief efforts in the world, size matters.

For Direct Relief, which delivers medicines and other medical aid to more than 85 countries, the size and efficiency of their warehouse had become cramped.

With help from FedEx and other funders, today Direct Relief has moved into a space the size of a Manhattan city block. The new 155,000-square-foot headquarters is the largest distribution hub for humanitarian medical aid in the United States, and is transforming how the organization stores and mobilizes medical aid in emergencies.

“More than ever before in its 68-year history, Direct Relief is being called upon to assist people who are vulnerable – who endure poverty or crisis situations, and who often confront both,” said Thomas Tighe, Direct Relief President and CEO. “This is a pivotal moment in Direct Relief’s history and essential to its future.”

In addition to extra capacity needed to store critical medical supplies, Direct Relief’s new cold chain storage room is a 7,000% increase from their former cold chain capacity. The cold storage room, essentially a 36°F refrigerator, can cool 300 pallets. Thirty pallets of insulin are enough to treat 15,000 children with type 1 diabetes for a year.

“In the first month, we have received and sent more cold storage insulin than had ever been sent in an entire year,” Tighe said.