A visit to a refugee center, filled with four to five thousand Ukrainians who fled their war-torn country for a safe haven in Poland, marked the third day of the Hadassah Medical Organization (HMO)’s humanitarian mission. At the refugee center, located in one of the Polish border towns in what used to be a small shopping mall, the atmosphere was characterized by anxiety, sadness, stress, and despair. Dr. Yaarit Ribak, a senior Hadassah physician with a specialization in internal medicine and clinical immunology, quickly began seeing patients — treating colds, stomach problems, COVID-19 — since there were no other doctors on hand to care for the victims when she arrived.
“The people — mothers, grandmothers, and children — seemed to be floating on another planet,” comments Jorge Diener, Hadassah International (HI) executive director.
“It’s sad to see the refugees’ pain,” Dr. Ribak says. “But, at the same time, I am happy that now I can do something for them.”
Mr. Diener adds, “God bless the additional HMO doctors who will be arriving from Israel soon, our Hadassah supporters, and our organization.”
Earlier in the day, a Zoom call was held with the managers of all the hospitals in the border area between Poland and Ukraine.
In addition to Dr. Ribak and Mr. Diener, the team from Hadassah also includes Dr. Asaf Kedar, senior physician with expertise in trauma and acute care surgery .and Dr. Shaul Beyth, senior orthopedic surgeon.
During the Zoom call, organized by the HMO team and the Lublin University Hospital’s director, participants zeroed in on how the HMO physicians could best be of assistance and what the overall medical and personnel needs are at this point in the health care crisis. The HMO team advised the directors of the emergency and trauma units on how to streamline the flow of patients into their departments and what preparedness measures they could take now as the mass casualty situation escalates.
Picture caption: Dr. Yaarit Ribak consulting with medics about a patient in one of the refugee centers on the border to Ukraine.