A second delegation of Hadassah Medical Organization (HMO) physicians and nurses has arrived on the Ukrainian-Polish border, bolstering the first humanitarian mission team that is already on the ground since last week.
Hadassah International and Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America are supporting these initiatives with fundraising campaigns around the world.
The first team has been offering both medical care to the refugees and training to local medical staff. The second team is comprised of triage nurse Dana Benbassat, Ukrainian-born vascular surgical nurse Natan Loifman, pediatric pulmonologist and sleep-disorder expert Dr. Alex Gileles-Hillel, pediatrician Dr. Yuval Gutbir and infectious disease expert Dr. Meir Cherniak. With the arrival of these additional experts from Hadassah, who are specialists in the areas of need identified by the first HMO team, Hadassah’s impact will increase.
The second delegation has also brought additional equipment and medicines.
Dr. Shaul Beyth, a member of the first humanitarian mission and deputy head of Hadassah’s Orthopedic Department explains, “The delegation was given two main tasks by Acting HMO Director-General Prof. Yoram Weiss: to assist medical staff in Poland to prepare for the arrival of large numbers of casualties from the fighting in Ukraine, and to provide medical help to refugees at the border crossings.”
Dr. Beyth relates, “We made immediate contact with the University Hospital of Lublin, a regional trauma center, charged by the Polish government with heading up the treatment of refugees. The center can benefit from Hadassah’s experience in dealing with mass-casualty and serious trauma incidents.”
Hadassah’s training program at the University Hospital is being led by senior surgeon Dr. Asaf Kedar, who heads the trauma unit at Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus. Among those attending the training sessions have been the hospital’s director and department heads. Together with the Lublin team, the Hadassah delegation created a communications network with smaller hospitals in the region, enabling them to receive real-time guidance. In addition, at the request of the local medical centers, Hadassah produced a training video.
As a result of the Hadassah training, the Lublin hospital is adjusting its preparations for the refugees’ arrival. This week, Hadassah trauma experts will lead training sessions for all the hospital’s medical staff.
Dr. Beyth reports, “We also went to the border between Poland and Ukraine and witnessed the influx of refugees—women of all ages and children—exhausted and frozen after the long and difficult process of crossing the border.”
In coordination with NATAN Worldwide Disaster Relief, the World Health Organization, Polish health authorities, and the Polish Red Cross, the Hadassah team has medical responsibility for refugees at the border crossing close to the city of Przemyśl. Thousands of refugees are in that area, recovering from their ordeal and awaiting dispersion to eastern Poland and across Europe. Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem internal medicine expert Dr. Yaarit Ribak, who arrived with the first team, is coordinating medical treatment in the Przemyśl area. The second humanitarian team will offer long-term care to these people.
Prof. Weiss comments, “Hadassah’s vision and values-led us to this practical action, which goes far beyond the sympathy and compassion we feel for the refugees who, in a moment, left the lives they knew and came to the borders, wounded, sick and grieving. We chose to provide any help that is needed. I’m proud of the many staff members who volunteered for this mission. A Zionist organization such as Hadassah, which treats refugees on Polish soil, is the living embodiment of the Israeli spirit of giving and humanitarianism in this most important of times.”
HI Executive Director Jorge Diener notes, “From the moment the fighting started in Ukraine, we understood a humanitarian catastrophe was unfolding and only worsening with time. It’s hell for the refugees, with destroyed lives that must be built anew. Hadassah’s ethos is to bring medicine to Israel and every corner of the globe. Therefore, right now we are in eastern Poland and on the Ukrainian border, and here we shall stay.”