Two doctors from Grand River Health and their families went to Ukraine less than two months after the invasion of Russia. They brought with them medical supplies, $4,000 worth of medicine and loads of important knowledge.
Doctors Michael Duersen and Heath Cotter taught young Ukrainian fighters how to bandage wounds. Treat sick refugees. One of their daughters played the harp for the orphans suffering from the war.
During this humanitarian mission, two Rifle doctors worked alongside two Ukrainian doctors: husband and wife Serhii and Yuliia Serdeniuk.
Shortly after 6pm EET on Thursday, Dr Serhiy experienced intermittent blackouts as he spoke to the Post Independent via WhatsApp, a free international calling service.
A disfigured man’s voice is muffled on the intercom at Angelia Clinic, A private clinic nestled among a fleet of long-haul apartments About two miles east of the Dnipro River in Kyiv, while Dr. Serhiy explained why he had temporarily left Ukraine for Rifle, Colorado.
“I want to meet with as many people as possible to ask you to support our service,” he said calmly, in his best English. “Just yesterday our dental medical equipment broke and we need $10,000 to replace that.”
Annick Pruitt, director of community relations for Grand River Health, said Dr. Serhi, who has worked closely with Kotter and Duersen, is scheduled to appear at Grand River Health’s Colorado River Chamber from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesday. Grand River Health is located at 501 Airport Road.
“He will provide an update on the situation there as well as an update on the new clinic they have built,” she said.
Serhiy is the director of the mobile clinic unit. Visit these rolling medical bastions and serve the front lines of the war, now mostly on the country’s eastern fringes. To date, he has conducted about 60-65 clinics, each serving about 30 people per day.
He said supplies are always dwindling. As Russia changed tactics from a failed blitzkrieg approach to a brutal war of attrition, hospitals and schools – even places where medicines are made – continue to be targeted by long-range missiles.
“Because of the war, the Russians bombed two of the biggest factories that produce medicines for Ukraine,” Dr. Serhi said. “At the moment, even if we have the money, we cannot buy it in Ukraine, because it is not produced for Ukraine.”
Dr. Serhiy became livelier as he continued to list other medical needs. This includes anything and everything, from $20,000 for a new ultrasound machine and a newer battery, to psychiatric medications because anxiety among Ukrainians is now rampant. With the power still out, Dr. Serhii works with a flashlight, sometimes even by candlelight.
Just this week, Dr. Serhiy was taking a drive through Ukraine to Warsaw, Poland. From there, flight to Munich, Germany. Then a flight from Munich to Frankfurt, Germany. From Frankfurt, Denver International Airport. From Doha International Airport, boarding along Highway 70 to Venice.
Then Dr. Serhiy became apprehensive. He said he didn’t want to leave for Colorado. He prefers to stay and help as many people as possible. At this moment, he also remembered the help he received from foreign doctors, including Kotter and Duersen.
“These really brave guys,” he said, “bring in big boxes full of medical supplies.”
Doctors Kotter and Dohersen once joined Dr. Serhiy on a visit to a Ukrainian village near the Romanian border. A group of refugees recently arrived from the war-torn city of Mariupol, one of the most populated cities Cities were badly destroyed during the entire war so far.
Dr. Serhi said that one of the refugees, a 13-year-old boy, was bleeding profusely from his nose for half an hour straight. With Dr. Cotter’s help, the bleeding stopped within three minutes, and the boy, who weighed about 110 pounds, survived.
“Dr. Heath stopped the bleeding by himself,” said Dr. Serhiy. “It was a miracle that he was there at that moment, when he was most needed.
When we stopped the bleeding, (the boy) started vomiting blood. We collected half a liter of blood that he had swallowed before.”
The past 11 months have clearly not been normal for Dr. Serhiy, whose first taste of war came when he was called up as a military medic in 2015. When Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, Dr. Serhiy moved his family from Kyiv to Germany, and they have been back ever since. now.
He said he had food, a roof over his head, and warmth. He joked funny that everything in Kyiv is “not so bad.” But he also lost a lot, including friends.
“I lost,” he said in a tone. Then he sighed. “My friend, he was a colonel in the Ukrainian army… Yes, I lost a lot of people.”
December 21, 2022 marked a historic day in the history of the United States. 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 United States, there is still more to come.
He told Congress: “Your support is crucial, not only to stand through such a fight, but to reach the tipping point to win the battlefield.” “We have artillery, yes. We have it. Is that enough? Quite frankly, not really.”
In a very miniature version, Dr. Serhie’s visit to the Rifle is filled with the same intentions.
“I only have one week to meet as many people as possible,” he repeated. “Because on Tuesday I will go back to Ukraine, and on Wednesday we will go to Mykolaiv. It is a city on the Black Sea, and they bomb it every day. We promise the people that we will be there and serve them for three days.”
“I can’t miss this trip.”