Dear friends, yesterday we happened to visit the front line. No, there are neither bullets no explosions there. Still this visible silent war is no less dangerous; it bears no less risks and claims no less lives. The story below is dedicated to a few real heroes and their armies fighting in this war.
These days, we completed another stage of the Second Front project within which distributed a few more batches of PPE for doctors. Naturally, we could have continued to count on the government , still in some medical institutions the situation is rather catastrophic: some are lacking certain stuff while others are short of anything at all. The only thing every hospital has in plenty is a great number of COVID-19 infected patients who need to get saved from death.
The first hospital on our list was the City Maternity Home #3 located in the city distant outskirts, so going there by car feels like a trip somewhere to Egypt in normal time. But even during the quarantine the area adjoining to the Maternity Home is crowded with people whose condition makes them visit the hospital despite the risk: young mothers-to-be and their relatives congregate around every available bench. They look at one another with some suspicion despite each person is wearing a mask and gloves; the air amid the high pine trees is filled with the smell of disinfectant. A while ago we used to support this Maternity Home within the Help Me Breathe initiative: we bought them a gas analyzer aimed to save the lives of babies in serious conditions. So we found ourselves quite pleased to visit this medical institution once again.
This time, it was Ms. Larysa who encouraged us to support the Maternity Home. First we decided she takes the position of some unit head: as a rule, it is chief executives or administrators who seeks ways to supply their colleagues with necessary stuff and eventually apply to our fund. But this time it was the opposite: an Armed Forces veteran decorated with many state awards, psychologist, doctor, and administrator at the Maternity Home, Ms. Larysa is also a volunteer actively involved into charitable activities. Once an active participant of the Revolution of Dignity at Kyiv Maidan, now she’s busy helping both Ukrainian military fighting in the forefront, and at the same time saving lives of newborn babies and their mothers at the Maternity Home.
Ms. Larysa says that under the conditions of pandemic, two Kyiv city maternity homes have split their responsibilities: the Maternity Home #5 now specializes in gynecological cases while the Maternity Home #3 admits women in labor and deals with childbirth issues solely. This medical institution is rather big in size: its staff amounts to two hundred medics including doctors and nurses within a single shift, so all of them must be protected. A few cases of infection have already been registered there: a woman with complications and confirmed Covid-19 contagion was admitted some time ago. She underwent an hours-long surgery during which doctors tried to improve her condition and help her cope with the complications while simultaneously trying to protect themselves against the infection. Today we have brought a bunch of respirators, goggles, protective shields and contactless body thermometers to these decent people.
By the way, as regards the practical side as it is seen by professionals: they admit the things are not going too well. It is very hot inside the hospital wards, and wearing of a protective shield has its peculiarities: despite its indisputable usefulness, it fogs up with almost any breath which prevents medics from proper focusing on the surgical area. Still there are no other options anyway. A tiny drop of any bodily fluid which is always in plenty during a surgery, especially in case of a severe bleeding, and a medic gets a considerable portion of a virus agent. This is why it is exceptionally important to buy not merely PPE but the gear that enables doctors to work in comfort for many hours and does not distract them from saving patients’ lives. As you probably know from your own experience, wearing a respirator for many hours in a row feels highly uncomfortable and irritating. It is rather difficult to breathe which leads to slight dizziness and other unpleasant symptoms due to high levels of carbon dioxide in the air: it inevitably accumulates inside the respirator and then gets inhaled at every breath. The doctors who have to perform surgical procedures for hours or work in contaminated areas, are worthy of gold monuments, which is hardly an exaggeration.
Our another visit was to the Hospice: it is a Palliative Help Unit at the Kyiv City Clinical Hospital #10. Normally, it is the place where people with terminal diagnoses like oncological diseases, strokes and other irreparable damages to their health which nullified their chances for survival, live their last days: their last breath is usually grabbed here. Actually, medics of the unit provide a good opportunity for these people to spend their last hours with no fear and struggle on their own, but in comfortable surrounding of supportive and sympathetic caregivers. Below you can find a video in which activities of these specific medics are described: we spotted it on the web. Dear Ms. Inna, Ms. Julia, Ms. Maryna and the rest of your colleagues: we appreciate your efforts and say a big thank you for your work!
Now, under the conditions of the quarantine, a part of the unit has been adjusted to the needs of the most difficult patients diagnosed with Covid-19. This does not mean these patients are admitted there to die: it is just because the unit’s staff is exceptionally good at taking appropriate care of patients in their terminal stages, so they will be able to provide them most adequate medical assistance in their harshest moments. In view of this fact, we have supplied the medics of the unit with another batch of PPE, namely a few protective suits (a small supply just to try these in practice and decided if they want more of these in future). Also, we brought them a few protective ex-snorkeling masks re-modeled by Kostyantyn, co-ordinator of the School of Military Divers initiative who, using financial support of the Second Front project, turns diving equipment into a universal means of protective anti-virus gear.
Volodymyr Vasylyovych expresses stronger views. He is a legend of the Ukrainian science and practical medicine, head of the Emergency Vascular Neurosurgery Unit at the Academic Romodanov Neurosurgery Institute which was the third destination on our today’s route. It was him who approached us for help couple of days ago. Normally, patients with severe blood disorders are treated here: these are various types of stroke, subarachnoid hemorrhages, arteriovenous malformations, and a number of other pathologies most of us are lucky not to be familiar with. To say they’re engaged into really delicate work that they do every single day is to say almost nothing. And the medics proceed with it even under the conditions of quarantine, but now taking all risks of catching coronavirus infection.
Volodymyr Vasylyovych views of coronavirus and the overall situation are rather realistic: he just reiterates that we’re dealing with a virus. Which means no protective equipment present on the market or in hospitals, are capable of 100% securing people against contagion, so every medic is anyway going to catch it sooner or later. So the gear they have in their possession at the moment or the PPE supplied by volunteers, will only postpone contamination for some period of time allowing medics to save a few more lives.
We have supplied the neurosurgeons with a considerable stock of protective suits, coats and masks. Another part of the transfer is still being shipped
Apart from this, Volodymyr Vasylyovych bitterly comments that people mostly take the virus infection quite carelessly. From his experience with American colleagues he recollects that he has never seen such cases when a healthy person would literally die in just two days from severe pervasive pneumonia and massive damage to the lung and other tissues. Sometimes, it is even hard to determine whether there was a stroke: the acute respiratory syndrome caused by coronavirus infection, proves too deadly for the body tissues.
COVID-19 in illustrative pictures: from comparatively healthy lungs to total disaster and massive damage: the time difference between the two pictures makes just 48 hours. Publication by a colleague Volodymyr Moroz
Let us also join in debunking the present day soothing myths. Yes, the statistical data may seem not too impressive so far, like it’s just some numbers we stumble upon across the media. We have neither met those people, nor going to meet them someday; it’s not about us and all this has no relation to our own lives. Bearded men in shorts cruise the streets of the city as before, and since yesterday, with the same invariable cups of coffee in their hands they bought in the nearby coffee-shops which are now open. People wandering along the streets and in parks with their kids in baby carriages and pets as if they just ignore the existing danger of contamination. As many people with Covid-19 have a mild form or are simply asymptomatic. Still the chances to get a “burn notice” in this lottery are exceptionally high, and they depend on too many factors.
The virus is extraordinarily contagious. Specific treatment to it is absent. The vaccine against it has not been developed yet. The ventilators are not a panacea as most patients who enters the stage of additional oxygenation, dieL their lung are merely unable to take in oxygen even if intubated. A ventilator is not the miracle able of saving people’s lives. It is rather a way to support a patient, the last resort for the medics who cannot just stand and watch their patients dying. The ECMO apparatuses have proven more effective: these extra-corporal membrane oxygenation tools extract the patient’s blood, enrich it with oxygen and then pump it back into the bloodstream. Still, there is nearly a dozen of such apparatuses in the whole country. Hence, there can be no miracle here: in its severest manifestations, Covid-19 is a one-way ticket.
There’s another upsetting thing as well: we often get advised to close the project as the situation seems improved and people’s resources ran short at the same time; doctors have all they need, our advisers think. Actually, some of our colleagues have been gradually ceasing their activities. True, there is no sudden increase in the number of infected. It seems we succeeded in constraining the contagion and managed to protect the majority of citizens. Still doctors suggest that following the slack of the quarantine the situation can get out of control and the disaster will struck in hours and days. We’d rather agree that the resources have been almost drained empty, when the list of necessities only extends day by day. In hospitals, active work continues day and night, and the demand for PPE for medics is still high. They need protective suits and coats of high class. They need disposable protective gowns as well. So we just cannot afford to relax and ignore their requests as long as we have a chance to help prevent a disaster. That is why, dear friends, we have to encourage you to participate in the project once again: you may want to support the initiative as much as you can afford, and assist us either with your donations or at least with spreading the word about the project and its goals. The amounts we raise we never allocate to any personal needs; similarly, we never take any interests out of these. All the money we accumulate, go in favor of those doctors and nurses, those decent people who are literally struggling to save lives, even at this very minute of time.
You can find the itemized lists and reports below: here we also placed the data on the transfers we proceeded over the past few days but which has not been covered in our daily reports yet.