In May 2010 five members of the Medical Advisory Committee had the privilege of traveling to Ukraine. Their purpose was to verify the hospitals’ use of supplies and medical equipment provided to them from Canada and to assess their further needs for medical equipment and education. In addition, due to a generous bequest by Ivan Maksym, CCCF was able to purchase ambulances for three key hospitals that we support, so we had the opportunity to “formally” present the ambulances. The CCCF-donated ambulances were named “Maksym” in recognition of this bequest.
Our route took us to about 15 small regional hospitals (rayonni likarni) which serve the Chornobyl zones or Chornobyl affected population. We traveled from Kyiv to 35 km of Chornobyl itself, to a town called Ivankiv, then through towns in Zhytomyrshchyna, west across the Volyn region (oblast), south to the Ternopil region and finally Lviv.
Starting our route at Kyiv Hospital #8, we met with Dr. Volodymyr Dembitsky who runs a very busy pediatric institution for children of low socioeconomic status in Kyiv. This physician has been working with us in a consulting capacity to help appropriately distribute humanitarian aid delivered to Ukraine. With special permission from deputies of the Verkhovna Rada, he takes in children with chronic illnesses from the Chornobyl zone for diagnosis and treatment at his hospital. Dr. Volodymyr led us to needy hospitals in Zhytomyr oblast – Baranivka, Ruzyn and Berdychiv.
Our next stop was in Ratne, an isolated town in the extreme northwest of Ukraine, just south of Belarus, Volyn oblast, north of the historic city of Lutsk, which was in the path of the Chornobyl cloud. In this scenic region, home to Lesia Ukrainka, a Swiss firm is conducting a perinatal project for the past two years to address one of the highest rates of congenital anomalies and infant mortality in Ukraine. The population also has a high rate of bone pain with osteoporosis and fractures. The wheelchairs and physiotherapy equipment in the hospital was noted to be old and tattered. For many years the Ratne hospital was in bad need of an ambulance and we were proud to be able to deliver a new “Maksym”.
Also receiving a “Maksym” ambulance was the hospital in the town of Zbarazh as well as the Ternopil Children’s Hospital. The Ternopil Children’s hospital is a very busy institution, which CCCF have been supporting over the past four years. We had previously donated incubators to their neonatal floors, however neonates with cardiac anomalies are sent to Kyiv for surgery, so we know that this ambulance, which was purchased only three days before our visit, will be put to good use. The hospital in Zbarazh serves 62,000 people of the region (rayon), including 30 families who were resettled from the Chornobyl area and 130 liquidators. This was a hospital originally supported by the CCCF chapter in Thunder Bay and the hospital proudly acknowledges their help with a permanent window plaque.
The hospital in the town of Halych, the historic zamok of King Danylo, has the fourth highest rate of cancer out of sixteen regions (rayons), and it is thought that this is due to the large power plant in the area, a known ecological disaster. The Halych hospital presented us with a certificate of recognition for our generous support for the flood clean-up that occurred in the summer of 2008.
During our visit, we actively promoted “Sitka Likariv” a webinar program that was developed by a Ukrainian American physician. This program is being promoted to provide distance learning to health care professionals throughout Ukraine.