Today we met the war. We drove to Zytomyr to deliver ortho supplies to a clinic. On the two hour drive we passed bombed out buildings, houses, bridges. In the town we saw the school, apartment buildings, houses and hospital that were hit by missiles.
The hospital that is still standing has many complex patients, injured by war.
We met with an amazing group of surgeons in the trauma orthopedic department. There were two ortho trauma wards – one for septic patients and the other for those with no infections. There are also separate ICU’s for these patients. Many patients coming from the front lines of the war have “dirty wounds” which can and do get infected. This limits the type of surgery that can be performed.
We were introduced to some patients and OMG . . . heartbreaking, such horrible injuries. These surgeons are brilliant, innovative and dedicated to saving limbs and preserving or re-establishing function. These patients are mostly civilian military, far from home. THey are sent to these specialists with no family around to support their healing. Due to the war, families have limited transportation and limited funds. It is a long and painful healing with many having years of multiple surgeries ahead of them. The hospitals do not have “hospital” beds with electric controls or air mattresses to prevent pressure sores. There are 3-4 patients per room, very close together – good for camaraderie but not for rest and infection control. They are all so young and with such a difficult path ahead. When we asked Dr Vitalil the impact of war he said “catastrophic”. The number of patients they receive each week, and some everyday is overwhelming. All hospitals now treat many many military who are, after all, civilians defending their country, not career army.
The medical people we have met are just amazing, dedicated and inexhaustible.
In Zytomyr we were also met by two women working for a community foundation, Janna and Oksana. They have dedicated themselves to serving their communities multiple needs during this war. They gather supplies for the over 12,000 IDPs (internally displaced persons) in their town. They deliver food, distribute clothing, support the civilian military by buying bullet proof vests and helmets, support free media and have designed special bullet proof vests and helmets for reporters. They work tirelessly on so many projects to support the community. I am in awe of their accomplishments, their unwavering dedication.
We returned to Kyiv rather late and had one more delivery to make to Denys at the Kyiv civilian trauma hospital. It was late (10 pm). He met us at the ambulance entrance. I had worked with him last March in the IDP clinic in Chernivtsi. He is on for 24 hours and had just finished a surgery and had three big surgeries scheduled for tomorrow. He looked older and tired but dedicated and very happy to get the ortho supplies. These supplies are donated from Dr. Herzenberg and Randy Huber. They are limb saving and we are honored to be the couriers. Our last delivery will be to Dr, Valentin who is currently a patient himself. It sounds like he has COVID.
We are considering going back to Zytomyr to volunteer for a few days before going back to Budapest.
By the way, we are staying in a hotel in Kyiv two blocks from President Zelenskiy’s office. We figured it was safe here. It has an air raid shelter four floors below the main floor. Only one air raid siren today.
Back in Ukraine with Valerie Hellerman and the Hands on Global team.