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  • 21 November 2016
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Why do doctors from Western Ukraine go to work in ATO zone?

From Nov. 7–10, the Pirogov First Volunteer Mobile Hospital (PFVMH) organized a press tour in Eastern Ukraine for a group of journalists to familiarize them with work of volunteer medics in health care institutions located in the zone of Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO). Yevhen Rudenko of Realist.online was the first to publish his report based on the tour.

The journalist has tried to find an answer to the question PFVMH doctors, and not only from Western Ukraine, are still asked by both their local colleagues and local patients in the East.

“With the beginning of the war in Donbas, a significant part of skilled doctors left hospitals in the ATO zone,” Yevhen Rudenko narrates in his story on the Realist.online site. “They have never come back to their homes and their patients. Visiting volunteer medics try to fill their empty consulting rooms and surgeries in the ‘buffer zone.'”

The author introduces the readers to several PFVMH doctors, mostly those “who are customarily called ‘Banderites’ in these parts.” And though the two years of the volunteer hospital’s activities have been gradually improving the attitude toward its medics, they still encounter the opinion of the locals that they allegedly come to Donbas to “make themselves rich on others’ grief.” As it is, the volunteer medics are just formally sent to the East on a month-long mission by their employers, who preserve for them their normal salary.

The doctors answered the “why” question in different ways but without excessive pathos anyway. For example, anesthesiologist Volodymyr Khvalkovsky from Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast, a PFVMH veteran, told the journalist, “I don’t have any global goals. Just want to help. We and the locals have same needs – everybody wants to live like human beings should.” Yevhen Ladyk, obstetrician-gynecologist from Kyiv Oblast, explained his motives even simpler: “I do what I can where they really need help.” And Svitlana Bortnyak, operating room nurse from Khmelnytsky Oblast, confessed that her heart is sore when she sees destroyed houses that people built with their own hands and then lost everything in a moment. “When I go out of the operating room, my heart is high because we have helped a person,” she added.

The story’s heroes also include the cofounder and leader of the volunteer hospital, Gennadiy Druzenko from Kyiv, PFVMH Commander Oleh Shyba from Lviv Oblast, general practitioner Halyna Chernysh from Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast and surgeon Yuriy Romanishyn from Volyn.

Read the whole story and view photos and video on the Realist.online site.

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