Life in Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine

Categories: Opinion and People & Places.

My name is Iryna Slugotska. I graduated from the European Palliative Care AcademyLeadership Course in 2017. I work in the Regional Palliative Care Centre in Ivano-Frankivsk. It is not a large hospice in the West of Ukraine. Our hospice coordinates Palliative Care in all hospitals across the region. It has two departments, a 30 bed inpatient hospice and an outpatient (mobile ‘hospice at home’), and has two teams – for adults and one for children.

Currently we have 31 patients in our hospice, including now four patients who arrived from Kyiv, Zhytomyr and Dnipro as refugees. We are expecting a large number of patients in the coming days, more and more of them have no home to return to as in many cases their family have left Ukraine or their relatives have been killed during this period of Russian –Ukrainian war.

We are expecting a higher number of patients from the mentioned regions and we are preparing extra beds for this.  But it happens slowly because people do not feel they can travel safely due to their great concerns regarding permanent firing and the delay of safe evacuation corridors. That is why the quantity of palliative care patients who are refugees is not extreme yet and so at the moment we manage to provide care at the hospice and by our ‘hospice at home’ team. I have included in this blog some photos of our teams working.

Our mobile team continues to work and is providing palliative care for patients at home. Sometimes this care is given in shelters. They are giving palliative care for 35 patients, including six children. Providing care in shelters and basements would also be needed for the Eastern part of Ukraine, but we do not have the information how they are managing to do that as bombardment and air strikes continue there.

The situation changes every day and now we have 31,000 refugees in Ivano-Frankivsk region from all over Ukraine and we are considering increasing beds up to 40 in case of emergency. Due to the military situation, some of our non-medical staff have been redeployed for army needs but inpatient hospice medical personnel are not obliged to do military service.

Another initiative we have launched with our Charity Fund of St.Panteleimon is to coordinate bed availability for all Ukrainian hospices to provide palliative care in the most efficient way, and not to overload some particular hospices and to estimate what is needed.

We have enough medicines for our patients for approximately one month.  The supply of centralised medicines and especially bandage materials are now limited as most of the stocks are sent for army needs, so we struggle to purchase even some materials privately. The most critical situation is with bandage materials as our stocks will only cover a week or two. Especially we need gauze, bandages (sterile and non-sterile), adhesive tape, tourniquets, individual dressing bags (because everything goes to the army) and adult diapers.

While I am writing this, a young woman who was evacuated from Kyiv is dying from cancer in the ward on the 2nd floor. We provide her with the necessary palliative care.  Next to her is her mom. We arranged a place for her so that she could be with her daughter all the time. Her sister is constantly calling from Ternopil (she was given shelter in the neighbouring region, she has a young baby). Our patient’s husband is a soldier and defends Ukraine. Imagine the tragedy of this family, which was torn apart by this unthinkable and terrible war. Thank God our chaplain came, he finds comforting words for a mother with a seriously ill daughter, for the staff, and for each patient.

We have not received humanitarian aid from international organisations yet, only from local volunteers. We have a good mutual work and help from Andreas Staehli and the Johannes hospice in Munster in Germany.

We are asking the palliative care community and others to support us.  Please contact us here if you can help.

Staff at the Regional Palliative Care Centre.


About the author

I am Iryna Slugotska.  I am a Haematologist, MD. I have been working as the head of the Regional Palliative Care Centre in Ivano-Frankivsk for nine years.  I am a Council member of the Ukrainian League for the Development of Palliative and Hospice Care and a participant in the EAPC World Congresses.

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