UNMC professionals gather and deliver tactical medical supplies to hospitals and medics in Ukraine

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Published: Jul. 6, 2023 at 11:26 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A world away, Ukrainian-Americans felt despair with word of Russia’s invasion of their home country back in February of 2022.

“I still refused to believe that it would happen, so when the war started I was in shock,” UNMC graduate student Viktoriya Mashinson said. “I wanted to do something that would help.”

“When the war started, my first instinct was to go out and see how I could help,” Nebraska Medicine pediatric nursing supervisor Luba Butsyak said. “How could I be helpful from here to my home country of Ukraine?”

Both women began with grass roots work to deliver support in any way they could back to Ukraine, but they needed help with those individual efforts. That’s where Dr. Olga Taraschenko stepped in and provided the guiding force to what they are doing today, providing medical supplies directly to hospitals and medical teams in Ukraine.

“We have many of our family members back in Ukraine, and this is our contribution,” the UNMC associate professor said. “We know that the victory will come, but all Ukrainians around the world have to contribute, so we started it last year, little by little with a small group of volunteers.”

A fourth Ukrainian medical professional at UNMC, Dr. Valentina Gumenyuk, is also a a part of their team, which has pooled together contacts, forged non-profit relationships and rolled up their sleeves for old-fashioned hard work packing supplies for delivery to Europe’s second largest country, their homeland.

Eight deliveries over the past sixteen months have shipped dozens of pallets of tactical medical supplies and medicines directly where needed.

“This stuff is donated from different units in the hospital,” Taraschenko said. “It comes from the O.R., from the burn unit, medication management, all discontinued items get to us and we package them together and send them out.”

“And as our efforts gained traction, we made connections with more and more people who started sending requests to us,” Mashinson said. “So we’re helping physicians, we’re helping medics at the front lines.”

“They ask for tourniquets, gauze, tactical needles, chest airways, chest seals, and all sorts of supplies,” Taraschenko said.

As these medical professionals from UNMC would say, their faith - doyla - connects them through this work.

“Every time we get together, or we get donations, or we put (the shipments) together, we think of people (back home),” Butsyak said. “This is another little step towards our victory.”

The group posts information detailing their efforts on the ground in Ukraine through their gofundme page.