UMANA’s Solomiya Grushchak: Ukrainians are ready to sacrifice and defend our culture even in times of crisis

Ukrainian communities across the United States are sending critical medical and humanitarian supplies to Ukraine through organizations including the Ukrainian Medical Association of North Americasaid UMANA member Solomiya Grushchak.

“There’s a huge initiative to provide as much support as possible,” said Grushchak, chief resident at John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital in Cook County. “That includes not only medical supplies, but also humanitarian aid – things like non-perishable food, diapers, clothes, blankets, sleeping bags – to Poland, in addition to things like helmets, protective equipment for civilians and the military.”

Grushchak’s family chose to stay in Ukraine. “My immediate family is in Lviv and Ivano-Frankivsk, which is on the western side, closer to the Polish border,” Grushchak said.

“If needed, it looks like everyone was able to regroup, but it’s still very critical at the moment. Everything changes from minute to minute. »

Grushchak spoke with Matthew Ong, deputy editor of The Cancer Letter.

Matthew Ong: What are the circumstances like right now for people you know in Ukraine? How can our audience help?

Solomiya Grushchak: For the moment, some families have decided to stay, in particular because men aged 18 to 60 could not cross the border or would like to. Many people are leaving the cities and going to the outskirts of the cities.

There is a huge initiative to provide support as much as possible. The refugees have been moved to Poland and are trying to connect with Chicagoans through Ukrainian relief efforts for supplies.

This includes not only medical supplies, but also humanitarian aid – things like non-perishable food, diapers, clothes, blankets, sleeping bags – to Poland, in addition to things like helmets, protective equipment for civilians and military, and it is then be transferred to Poland and then by courier to Ukraine.

All of this is voluntary. Currently, there are several different non-profit organizations that help with refugee relief.

For medical support in particular, the Ukrainian Medical Association, obviously, did not expect this excruciating geopolitical crisis of such magnitude, and is adjusting its strategies and optimizing its procedures as it goes.

Can you tell me a bit more about yourself, about the Ukrainian Medical Association and your role within it?

OS: Sure. I was actually born in Ivano-Frankivsk, which is in the west of Ukraine. My whole family is currently in Ukraine, except for a cousin in New York.

In Chicago, fortunately, there is a huge Ukrainian diaspora, and I was involved in Ukrainian dance, Ukrainian scouting, and then one of the organizations was the Ukrainian Medical Association. And that’s how I decided to pursue a career in medicine, thanks to some mentors I established.

UMANA receives hundreds of pounds of medical supplies daily.
Source: UMANA

Since then, I have participated in several fundraisers. Specifically in 2015, myself and UMANA member Areta Bojko organized a assignment travels across Ukraine, providing supplies to hospitals in Lviv and kyiv as well as volunteering at military hospitals and public hospitals in Lviv. At the time when the conflict began, several years ago, during the orange revolution, and then its aftermath, we participated in a missionary trip across Ukraine, supplying both Lviv, Kyiv and military hospitals and public hospitals there.

Obviously now it’s on a much larger scale, since these people have a pretty decent understanding, are very helpful and eager to get involved. Whereas at the time, I don’t think it was widely known—the long conflict between Russia and Ukraine, a long history of conflict.

What can our network of cancer centers, associations, and organizations in the United States do for physicians, medical professionals, and scientific experts inside and outside Ukraine? ?

OS: Right now this is the part where I would like to get more opinion from the doctors in Ukraine, because I don’t have much contact with them at the moment, but I think awareness is always important, the raising funds for medicine supplies through the Ukrainian Medical Association. I have information and contacts on the supplies we are trying to transport to Poland and then to Ukraine.

And then, besides that, helping doctors to take refuge in other countries, both in Europe and in the United States. And then, if the need arises, to have doctors come to hospitals, because I’m sure that’s going to be quite a problem once this is all over.

Are there any other comments you would like to pass on?

OS: I’m just very proud of the response we’ve received from the global sphere, and we hope the conflict ends soon. We are grateful for the continued support from the medical field and abroad.

Did you say that you currently have family members at home in Ukraine?

OS: My close family, apart from my parents and my brother, is in Lviv and Ivano-Frankivsk, which is on the western side, closer to the Polish border.

UMANA volunteers during the first days of the drive, as they organize supplies into three categories: hospital, surgical and frontline supplies.
Source: UMANA

They have not decided to leave, even with all the resources we have provided them to try to move forward either with a visa for the United States or for Poland. So, I think, they’re hoping this all ends and they’re just very proud and they love their country. They love their life in Ukraine.

I think this shows that much of this propaganda war has actually not benefited Putin, because Ukrainians are very proud and willing to sacrifice and maintain their traditions and culture even in times of crisis.

What should also be emphasized is that there is enormous support not only from the Ukrainian community in Chicago, but everywhere else in the United States.

And it would be great to have a unified voice, a unified force—and that’s why I think the medical association has promised to provide—but we really appreciate everyone else’s initiatives and efforts. It’s fantastic.

In case of need, it seems that everyone was able to regroup, but it is still very critical at the moment. Everything changes from minute to minute.

I hope your loved ones are safe and I hope all goes well for your family in Ukraine. Please contact us if there is anything we can expand on.

OS: Thanks I appreciate that.

Helen D. Jessen