ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Although thousands of miles away, doctors in the Rochester area are finding ways to help those impacted by the war in Ukraine.
Dr. Yuliya Snyder and Dr. Alex Paciorkowski are local child neurologists who are spearheading an effort to send prescription and over-the-counter medications to the war-torn country.
Snyder works for Rochester Regional Health, while Paciorkowski works for the University of Rochester Medical Center. They started thinking of ways to give back after the war began in February.
“Early into the war, we realized that there’s a lot of need and there are multiple other organizations that are working in other domains such as diapers, food, there is help coming in the military domain,” Snyder said. “However, prescription medication was something that was not easy to accomplish given all the logistical challenges and everything that would go with it.”
The pair say the child neurology field is relatively small, so they have colleagues working in countries across the world, including Ukraine. Over the past few months, they’ve heard from Ukrainian doctors about a large need for medication due to the stressed medical system there.
Paciorkowski said doctors were in great need of many basic medications, like Ibuprofen or Tylenol, to continue functioning and providing care.
“It was certainly medications that you might go to the pharmacy to pick up for your child, like anti-seizure medications,” Paciorkowski said. “And the pharmacy is no longer working, or it’s been destroyed in the war.”
To help, Snyder and Paciorkowski started packing boxes with antibiotics or prescription medications to ship in the mail directly to physicians in Ukraine.
“When it comes down to the anti-seizure medications, those drugs you cannot discontinue abruptly,” Snyder said. “When it comes down to antibiotics… it’s such a thing that we take for granted. People die without them from all those wounds and it’s not necessarily even military, this is civilians with shrapnel wounds, all the injuries that they get from the rubble, they all need antibiotics to be treated.”
The medication is going to hospitals in Kharkiv, Lviv and Cherkasy. Just last week, Paciorkowski said their first major shipment of anti-seizure medication arrived in Kharkiv, with over $6,000 worth of medications.
“One of our recent shipments was antibiotics that we sent to a hospital, a regional hospital in Ukraine, who reached out to us and just conveyed the fact that they had a lot of people of all ages who had war-related injuries and were getting infections and they did not have enough antibiotics,” Paciorkowski said.
So where do the doctors get the medication? The local medical community has rallied around them. Nurses, surgeons, and other medical staff in the area have donated medication and money. In less than one week, they even raised $17,000.
“People call us up and say, ‘Hey, ‘we have these supplies, they’re not expired, they’re in good shape, but we really don’t need them in our unit… Can we send them to Ukraine?’ and we love getting those kinds of calls,” Paciorkowski said.
He adds that this effort is such a partial thing that resonates with everyone, especially health care providers.
“We know how important it is, having just gone through the pandemic, when there are times of uncertainty, how important it is to be able to meet your family’s needs and knowing that there are families in Ukraine who can’t meet the needs of their family members in terms of medications or getting them help, and being able to provide very specific very practical solutions for that, I think that’s one of the things that’s been really helpful and getting people motivated to work with us on this project,” Paciorkowski said.
The doctors say it has been amazing to see the local medical community come together to help those in Ukraine. The effort is especially inspiring for Snyder, who grew up in Kharkiv and received her MD with honors from Kharkiv State Medical University.
Snyder now gets to work again with her former colleagues who are on the ground in Ukraine.
“It’s just amazing that we can make a difference for all those people who I grew up with and became a doctor with,” Snyder said. “Doctors are extremely excited and very, very grateful. It makes them think that there are people out there, even all the way across the ocean, who think about them and really do care about what’s going on.”
Snyder said they are currently in the process of sending their 10th shipment of medications to Ukraine. If you’re looking for ways to help, there are donation boxes for unopened, over-the-counter medications at Golisano Children’s Hospital. You can even purchase medications off of their Amazon gift list.
You can also donate money to support the purchase of medical supplies by clicking here.