Less than two months after Russia invaded, two Grand River Health doctors and their families moved to Ukraine. They brought with them medical supplies, $4,000 worth of drugs, and loads of valuable knowledge.
Doctors Michael Duhrson and Heath Cotter teach young Ukrainian combatants how to dress dress wounds. He treated sick refugees. One of his daughters played the veena for war-torn orphans.
During this humanitarian mission, two rifle doctors worked side by side with two Ukrainian doctors: husband and wife Serhiy and Yulia Serdeniuk.
Just after 6pm Eastern European Time on Thursday, Dr Serhi suffered intermittent blackouts when he spoke to the Post Independent on WhatsApp, a free, international communications service.
A disfigured man’s voice muffled over an intercom at the Angelia Clinic, a private practice situated amid a fleet of tall, block apartments About two miles east of the Dnieper River in Kyiv, while Dr. Serhiy argues why he is leaving Ukraine temporarily, heading for Rifle, Colorado.
“I want to meet (as many people as possible) to ask you to support our service,” he said calmly, in his best English. “Just yesterday our medical equipment for the dental treatment broke and we need $10,000 to replace it.”
Annick Pruett, director of Grand River Health Community Relations, said Dr. Serhi, who worked closely with Cotter and Duhrsen, will appear Wednesday at Grand River Health’s Colorado River Room from 5:30-7 p.m. Grand River Health is located at 501 Airport Road.
“He will give an update on the situation there as well as the new clinic he has built,” she said.
Serhiy is the director of a mobile clinic unit. These rolling medical bastions come and serve on the front lines of the war, now mainly on the eastern fringes of the country. He has so far operated around 60-65 clinics, each serving around 30 people daily.
He said that the supply is continuously decreasing. Because Russia has changed its strategy from a failed blitzkrieg approach, hospitals, schools – even the places where they make pharmaceuticals – continue to be targeted by long-range missiles.
“Because of the war, the Russians bombed two of the biggest factories producing medicine for Ukraine,” said Dr. Serhiy. “Right now, even if we have the money, we cannot buy it in Ukraine, because it is not being produced for Ukraine.”
Dr. Serhi became more animated as he continued to list further medical needs. This includes anything and everything from $20,000 for a new ultrasound machine and a new battery to psychiatric drugs as anxiety is now widespread among Ukrainians. As the blackout continues, Dr. Serhiy works with a flashlight, sometimes just by candlelight.
Just this week, Dr. Serhiy will take a car ride from Ukraine to Warsaw, Poland. From there flew to Munich, Germany. Then a flight from Munich to Frankfurt, Germany. From Frankfurt, Denver International Airport. From DIA, climb along Interstate 70 to Rifle.
Dr. Serhi then became apprehensive. He doesn’t want to leave for Colorado, he said. He would rather stop and help as many people as he can. At this time he also recalled the help he received from foreign doctors, including Cotter and Duhrsen.
“These are really brave people, they brought big boxes full of medical supplies,” he said.
Dr. Cotter and Duhrsen once joined Dr. Serhi on a trip to a Ukrainian village near the Romanian border. A group of refugees had recently arrived from the war-torn city of Mariupol, one of the most heavily devastated cities of the entire war.
Dr. Serhi said that one of the refugees, a 13-year-old boy, had been bleeding heavily from his nose for half an hour straight. With Dr. Cotter’s help, the bleeding stopped in three minutes, and the 110-pound boy was saved.
“Dr. Heath personally stopped the bleeding,” Dr. Serhiy said. “It was a miracle that he was there at the moment it was most needed.
“When we stopped the bleeding, (the boy) started vomiting blood. We collected half a liter of blood that he had swallowed earlier.”
The past 11 months have clearly been anything but normal for Dr Serhi, whose first taste of war came when he was called up as an army doctor in 2015. From Kyiv to Germany, and they’ve been back ever since.
They said they have food, a roof over their heads and warmth. Everything is “not so bad” in Kyiv, he jokingly joked. But he has lost a lot, including friends.
“I’m lost,” she said poignantly. After this he sighed. “My friend, he was a colonel in the Ukrainian army… yes, I’ve lost a lot of people.”
December 21, 2022 marked a historic day in the history of the United States of America. It was the first time since British Prime Minister Winston Churchill did so in 1941, that a foreign national leader had come to Washington to address Congress. In his speech, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that, despite continued support from the US, more still needed to be done.
He told Congress, “Your support is vital, not only to stand tall in a battle like this, but to reach the turning point of victory on the battlefield.” “We have artillery, yes. we have. Is it enough? Quite honestly, not really.
On a much reduced version, Dr. Serhiy’s Rifle Journey is filled with similar intentions.
“I have only one week to meet as many people as possible,” he repeated. “Because I’ll be back in Ukraine on Tuesday, and on Wednesday we’ll go to Mykolaiv. It’s a city on the Black Sea, and they bomb it every day. We promise the people that we’ll be there and for three days Will serve them.
“I can’t miss this trip.”