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Founded in 1969, Interplast was a Silicon Valley-based nonprofit organization that provided free reconstructive surgery for needy children and adults in developing nations. It partnered with local medical professionals to provide surgery and related care for people who suffered from cleft lip, cleft palate and other crippling injuries. The organization’s mission included the following objectives: 1) providing direct patient care—reconstructive surgery and ancillary services to those with no other resources (direct service model); 2) providing educational training and medical interchange; 3) empowering host-country medical professionals and centers to achieve self-sustainability; and 4) empowering care recipients to become care providers at new service sites.
With innumerable patients needing medical services, the number of nonprofits globally providing reconstructive surgeries was growing. The number of qualified and interested medical professionals/ volunteers however, was limited. While several nonprofits focused exclusively on direct service, Interplast believed that its focus on quality control, quality processes and using technology to transfer knowledge and provide training was its competitive advantage.
By the mid-1990s, Interplast’s founder Dr. Donald Laub, knew that it was time to reassess Interplast’s strategy and operations and take the organization to the next level He started this process by recruiting professional leaders. After assessing both the changing market and Interplast’s internal capacity, the new leadership decided to shift Interplast’s primary strategy from direct patient care through surgical trips to educating and equipping local surgeons to perform the operations themselves.
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