“Surgeries do not stop just because a missile is flying overhead.”
This is a quote from a delegate who was in Kansas City the week of December 9-17, 2022 on an Open World Leadership exchange. The six Ukrainian healthcare professionals that traveled to Kansas were incredible representatives of the spirit of Ukraine, and showed the bravery and humor the world has come to know. They took every opportunity to point out the yellow and blue flags waving around Kansas City, and the QR codes taped on windows showing people how to donate. They expressed a tremendous amount of gratitude for the Kansas City community, and returned to Kyiv (via Poland, as air travel is still nonexistent) with a firsthand experience and firsthand stories of just how much the international community, and the US Heartland specifically, supports Ukraine.
As part of their professional exchange program these delegates visited a wide variety of healthcare institutions around the city, starting out with New Birth Company, a midwifery that exposed delegates to how small clinics operate in the United States, starting their journey “at birth”. They went to Oracle Cerner to delve deeper into electronic medical records. They met with Heart to Heart International, an organization that has worked directly with Christian Medical Association, a volunteer organization of delegate Anton Lebediev. They learned about US Aid programs seeking to increase US-Ukraine Sister City relationships, as well as spending time in Prairie Village, sister city of Dolyna, Ukraine. We took the group to meet with BioNexus KC to discover more about medical research and the life science industry in Kansas City, as well as with the Kansas City Medical Society to discuss differences in healthcare systems and treating patients in the United States. The trip ended with a meeting with the Wyandotte County Health Equity Task Force to talk about healthcare inequities in our community.
A highlight of the trip included two full days at local hospitals: KU Medical Center and University Health (formerly Truman). They met with representatives from oncology, anesthesiology, research, the medical school, archives, rehabilitation, and hospital leadership at each of these organizations.
To see more about their time at KU Medical Center see their story here: https://www.kumc.edu/about/news/news-archive/ukrainian-medical-professionals-visit.html.
The group was also interviewed at the close of the day and was put on the news! You can find the news story here: http://mms.tveyes.com/MediaView/c3RhdGlvbj0yMTE1JlN0YXJ0RGF0ZVRpbWU9MTIlMmYxNiUyZj[…]ydWUmc2lnbmF0dXJlPTE3MDQ1YTA0YmViZjZiZTgzYTMzMWIwZmEzMTRiMzg3.
At the same time as the group was eating barbeque, visiting museums, and touring operating rooms, their friends, family and colleagues at home were dealing with power outages, missile bombardments, and the sound of drones being shot down outside their hospital windows. The current realities of the war never left their minds, and was something they carried with them throughout the exchange.
The visitors went home with new potential partners for virtual training, telehealth, ideas for future two-way exchange, and resource partners. The most impactful lessons from the trip are takeaways that will influence the country in years and decades to come, when these delegates implement systemic changes in the healthcare system of Ukraine. Throughout the program, the delegates maintained a continual optimistic view on the future of Ukraine. The question for them is not if, but rather, when, they will win the war. At that time, this group have plans to build, support, and shift the Ukrainian healthcare system in the years after fighting ends, increasing rehabilitation services, building out an e-health system, and collaborating with their new friends in the United States in the decades to come.