Ukraine Stories: "We Unconsciously Turned into a Military Hospital"
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This text is from the “Ukraine Stories” project launched by the English-speaking partner of “Temps” Geneva Solutions, which deals with international Geneva. It is about supporting and publishing the work of dozens of Ukrainian and Russian journalists who have lost their jobs or media but not their know-how.

A crowdfunding campaign covered the first two months of the project. If you want to support it for the future, write info[at]genevasolutions.news

From the first day of the conflict, Mykolaiv was bombed. Since then, the hospital has been at the forefront of the war. More than 700 people were injured. Journalist Oleksii Platonov spoke with Alexander Demyanov, the hospital’s director, about his new daily.

How was your work impacted by the war?

Alexandr Demyanov: The first few days were particularly difficult. Both the strength of the building and the reserves of medical equipment were tested. On February 24, the first day of the war, more than 70 wounded arrived in three hours.

Since then, many donations from Europe and the United States have strengthened our material reserves and made us feel less alone.

In addition, we have adapted the care of war wounded. Now we limit the breakage. That is, we provide patients with intensive care to stabilize them. Once stable, often on the third or fourth day after admission, we transfer them to a safer hospital. We learned this process through exchanges with more experienced Ukrainian hospitals in war medicine.

The repetitive attacks we experienced later affected us less. For example, when the airstrikes hit the regional administration building at the same time as the military barracks, we admitted nearly a hundred seriously injured. We then began to receive civilians wounded by rocket fire and bombing, and unconsciously turned into a military hospital.

Apart from the war wounded, have the pathologies changed? For example, is there more post-traumatic stress?

We specialize in surgery. We did not provide psychiatric care until the war. However, a specialist supports us because the injured often need psychological care. This is especially the case for civilians who are admitted as a result of a bombing raid.

The usual health problems have not disappeared. We continue what we do best: colon and stomach operations. We move interventions that can be pushed back. The time when covid patients were the only medical emergency seems a long way off.

What do you need most?

Currently, we, like other medical facilities in the region, have sufficient reserves of medicines. I thank the media for communicating our needs internationally.

How did you manage the water shortage in Mykolaiv?

The mayor of the city had anticipated this problem, and thanks to him we were the first hospital to have a well. We have never had a general water outage, even though the supply in the various operating units was complicated. Thanks to this system, we were even able to distribute water to the locals.

Has the number of sick people decreased since the beginning of the war?

Nearly 70% of the population has left the city, which means that of the 340 beds available in our establishment, only 130 are occupied. Also, while some seniors used to call an ambulance to talk to someone, this is no longer the case today. Everyone is aware of the difficulty the hospital is facing. Resources are primarily used for war victims.

Want to share something else with our readers?

People in Ukraine are relaxing, but a war continues to ravage the country. We must do our best to avoid the dead. That’s why I support martial law and curfew. Patients admitted to the hospital at this time are people who have not adhered to these schedules. They were injured on the streets during the curfew.

I would like to add that we are ready for more difficult days, whether morally or psychologically.

Oleksii Platonov is a Ukrainian journalist from Mykolaiv and the chairman of the news agency Ukrpress Info. Translation and adaptation: Aylin Elci

Read the article in English on Geneva Solutions

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