Ukraine Crisis Relief - A Truly Critical Response (Day 3)
"The newest reports from their volunteers on the Ukrainian side of the border indicated that due to the freezing temperatures the night before, the situation was dire; everyone was scrambling to get as many supplies loaded to take over the border as quickly as possible."
Every organization with connections to the crisis in Ukraine has given thought or contribution to help support the growing humanitarian crisis that keeps unfolding. This week, Etan Pasternak, our Head of Telehealth and leading expert on mobilizing operational remote assistance, flew to the refugee camps in Poland to offer his hand and our assistance at the ongoing efforts to support the 2-million-plus refugees that have fled the borders of Ukraine. Here is his firsthand and personal account of what he has witnessed.
Day Three, Near the Ukrainian Border, Poland
I traveled to pick up two doctors who spent the night at the Lwowska refugee center. They took turns taking shifts all night. I offered to help the night before by picking them up early so that they could refresh themselves before another long day. Since my accommodation was closer to the center, I cooked them breakfast and we made preparations to cross the Polish border into Ukraine. We then traveled back to the border warehouse, about an hour and a half away.
During the drive, they shared stories of the events from the night before, all heartbreaking. In particular, one story stood out; a woman who was mid-chemotherapy treatment and post-surgery just a few days ago. She needed highly specialized follow-up and medication, which was just not available; a microcosm of the issues happening all around. However, this presented an opportunity for Medcase to help, with our expansive network of clinicians around the globe, and the right implementation of technology, we can facilitate remotely guiding the brave physicians on the ground with peer support.
When we arrived at the humanitarian aid warehouse near Lubaczow, the facility was bustling with people and trucks in orchestrated chaos. The organizer was also the conductor. The rest of the team was already there waiting for us, the volunteers were preparing transport vehicles filled with supplies to escort us over to the Ukrainian Border and re-supply their humanitarian efforts for the refugees waiting in long queues across the border. Due to the recent cease-fire announcement, they were anticipating a huge wave of people crossing into Poland.
The newest reports from their volunteers on the Ukrainian side of the border indicated that due to the freezing temperatures the night before, the situation was dire; everyone was scrambling to get as many supplies loaded to take over the border as quickly as possible.
During our wait, we assisted in loading and unloading trucks and transport vans. We were fortunate to also connect with the team from an Israeli organization (several physicians) at the facility, where coordination efforts began between the two groups of physicians. Finally, after several hours at the facility, the convoy was ready to leave. However, due to the long delay and the dangerous nature of the trip over the border, I chose not to join the team (anti-climactic.. I know). I did get reports from the team later that night that the doctors were able to successfully make their assessment and have plans in place to assist, by building a coordinated network of field hospitals along the Ukrainian side of the border (a masterful success). I’m honored to have been able to support this amazing team of clinicians to achieve their goals.
After reflecting on the trip, I’m conflicted about how I feel leaving here tomorrow. There is so much more to be done, these people need all the help we can give them. How can I not stay and help? Also, after all I’ve witnessed, I can’t wait to hug my loved ones. I’m so grateful to the Medcase leadership for trusting me with this assignment. I believe we have many opportunities to contribute positively to this humanitarian crisis, which I will outline in my official report. Taking care of people is woven into the fabric of Medcase’s values, and we stand ready to continue to provide our support.