Prayers for peace and almost 100,000 pounds of medical supplies for the injured will soon be on their way to the people of Ukraine, the product of a massive mobilization across Franciscan Health hospitals and clinics, working with the Illinois Division of the Ukrainian Medical Association of North America (UMANA).
The effort began a week ago at Franciscan Health Dyer, where obstetrician/gynecologist Roman Puliaev, MD, sought to gather surgical equipment that had been in a room with a steam pipe leak. While the material could no longer be used at the hospital, it could still be useful in a warzone like Ukraine. He connected with UMANA, which was organizing a charter flight to take supplies to Poland for transportation over the border into Ukraine.
Dr. Puliaev, who graduated from Crimea Medical University and came to the U.S. in 2002, called Russia’s invasion of Ukraine an indescribable tragedy. “We never thought this kind of scale of war would happen after World War II,” he said while sorting and boxing supplies with volunteers and other staff at the Dyer hospital.
After hearing about the gathering of supplies for UMANA, Franciscan Health Crown Point Vice President of Medical Affairs Erik Mikaitis, MD, sought to expand it into a system-wide effort, putting the call out to divisions in Central and Western Indiana and South Suburban Chicago to collect equipment and material that was excess or near expiration.
“We are so proud to see such incredible support from our coworkers and medical staff across the Franciscan system. In just 48 hours, our supply chain team was able to fill three semi-trucks with supplies and equipment now bound for Ukraine,” Dr. Mikaitis said. “From gloves, gauze and bandages to syringes, sterile irrigation fluid and even surgical equipment; along with these supplies, the entire Franciscan team sends our hope for peace in Ukraine and our prayers for the safety and wellbeing of the Ukrainian people.”
UMANA representative and physician at Express Care Clinic in Michigan City Mariya Dmytriv-Kapeniak, MD, said Logistics Plus, Inc., is providing transportation and storage of the supplies at no cost. The supplies were picked up from Franciscan Health locations in Crown Point, Munster, Michigan City, Lafayette, Ind., and Olympia Fields, Ill., on Friday, and from Greenwood, Ind., on Monday. The organization is chartering a plane to take the supplies to Warsaw, Poland. From there, the supplies will be loaded onto trucks and will be taken to Ukraine's hospitals, field hospitals and frontlines.
Tucked in with the supplies will be prayer cards provided by the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration, Franciscan staff and students at St. Matthew’s Cathedral School in South Bend, Ind. Franciscan Health Michigan City Vice President of Mission Integration Sister Petra Nielsen said, “I think it is important to let everyone know that the Sisters are praying for all those in the Ukraine during our hours of perpetual adoration (24/7) at our Motherhouse in Mishawaka. It is so beautiful to see everyone at Franciscan come together in such a short time.”
At Franciscan Health Olympia Fields, Rev. Ted Ostrowski, chaplain, carried out Franciscan Health’s enduring tradition of prayer and blessing as he prayed “for our brothers and sisters in Ukraine who are experiencing the terrible blight of war with the catastrophe of losing their lives, homes, jobs, security and safety.” As he sprinkled holy water on the medical supplies enroute to Ukraine, he said, “We pray for the blessing of safe delivery of these supplies so they can help people they are intended to help and give them comfort.”
Dr. Dmytriv said, “On behalf of the people in Ukraine, the Ukrainian Medical Association of North America, Illinois Division and myself, we extend our sincere thanks to Franciscan Health for the collection of close to 100,000 pounds of much needed medical supplies in a record short time. Your generosity and care will aid many Ukrainian lives. Love, hope, kindness and care will prevail in the crisis faced by a peace loving and sovereign Ukraine.”
Anyone who wishes to contribute needed medical supplies (orthopedics, wound care, surgery supplies) and can deliver them to UMANA’s warehouse in Bensenville, Ill., can contact Dr. Dmytriv at (773) 858-7639 or Olga Maihutiak (630) 632-9307 for logistics. Anyone who wishes to donate to UMANA’s efforts can do so online at umana.org.