Alberta visit exceeds expectations, Ukraine doctors say

    Drs. Gennadii Siabrenko and Hanna Suchomyn with members of the Zustreech group at Ukraina Park in Mundare, Alta.

    Marco Levytsky, NP-UN Western Bureau Chief.

    Two doctors from Kropyvnytsky (formerly Kirovohrad) who toured Alberta for two weeks early in July, say their visit exceeded expectations.

    “We had some plans. We had some vision, but everything went not as expected. Everything went much better. Wonderful people and I would like to note how people work here. They work hard and in Ukraine we have to appreciate this,” Dr. Gennadii Siabrenko told New Pathway – Ukrainian News.

    Dr. Siabrenko and his wife, Dr. Hanna Suchomyn, are both from the Veterans Rehabilitation Hospital and Charitable group “Patriot” and from the Kirovohrad Oblast Hospital for War Veterans in Kropyvnytsky.

    Dr. Siabrenko said the main objectives of their visit were:

    • To hold joint meetings with Dr. Wayne Tymchak, Professor of Medicine and Chief for the Division of Cardiology at the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute, University of Alberta, and familiarize themselves with the work being done at the Mazankowski Institute;
    • To learn about Canadian medical practices and the STARs air ambulance service; and
    • To thank the Zustreech Ukrainian Society for all the assistance they have given them.

    The Kirovohrad Oblast Hospital and Mazankowski Institute have established an exchange program as both can learn from each other. Dr. Tymchak will travel to Ukraine to conduct lectures on how medical care is provided in Canada, especially Cardiology and the use of technology.

    The Canadians, in turn, can learn much from the Ukrainians when it comes to dealing with the traumatic effects of combat. That’s because of the sheer number of soldiers affected.

    “In Canada, you may have 10,000 people who participated in active combat… of which some individuals may have traumas… In our oblast alone, we have close to 15,000,” said Dr. Siabrenko.

    “We have a great deal of knowledge and we are ready to share it.”

    At STARs, Drs. Siabrenko and Suchomyn learned the theory and practice helicopter ambulance rescue. There are no civilian helicopter ambulances in Ukraine – only military ones, and those are limited.

    When the war with Russia broke out in 2014 the Ukrainian military was practically non-existent, having been depleted under the Yanukovych regime.

    “We didn’t have an army. It was naked, barefoot, without weapons … but there was a very high motivation to defend the fatherland,” explained Dr. Siabrenko.

    The people in Kirovohrad region organized to provide both material and medical aid to the soldiers.

    Zustreech Ukrainian Society has helped them considerably.

    Since the outbreak of the war with Russia in 2014, Zustreech has been instrumental in recruiting volunteers and collecting donations of medical supplies from several hospitals and one pharmacy in the Edmonton area and shipping them to Ukraine.

    During the past four years, Zustreech has sent seven tons of supplies to the Ukrainian army.

    Among the principal donors are Lamont Hospital, Mundare Hospital, University Hospital in Edmonton and Market Drugs in Edmonton.

    Much of the success of the humanitarian aid program has been due to the efforts of Zustreech President Bohdan Pivovarchuk.

    Pivovarchuk has managed to reach out to doctors, nurses, radiologists, pharmacies, hospitals and military. He has initiated fundraisers at events such as the Pysanka Festival, Vegreville Agricultural Fair, Ukrainian Day, and Baba’s and Borshch Festival.

    Pivovarchuk had the personal initiative to support Ukraine’s volunteer army, both morally and financially. In 2015, Zustreech donated $5,000 from organized fundraisers for medical and material supplies for immediate need of soldiers in Ukraine. As an individual volunteer, Pivovarchuk purchased, delivered and sent packages to Ukraine’s volunteer army battalions weekly since 2014. He supplies boots, hunting gloves, pants, hats, toiletries, candles, hunting jackets, thermal underwear, heavy socks, night vision goggles, Tylenol, and other necessary supplies.