DENVER — While Coloradans were enjoying a crisp and cold afternoon on Monday, Doug Amis was preparing to get some rest in Ukraine.
Amis, a physician assistant who lives in Denver, had just completed a volunteer trip near Kyiv where medical professionals served seven different communities.
“A lot of locations that were more remote, little villages, and some of these villages had been occupied by by Russian forces," Amis said over Zoom. “A lot of medical providers — doctors, nurses — went to the front lines or fled the country or have been killed. So, there's already a significant need for medical personnel here in Ukraine.”
Amis said he and a small team of volunteers drove a mobile medical care unit to the different locations as part of Global Care Force, a nonprofit organization based in Kansas. According to Global Care Force's website, they provide high-quality medical care to people who need it. The nonprofit accomplishes this through volunteers, who raise $5,000 before any trip to cover their own expenses. It allows Global Care Force to spend money on things like medication and supplies.
“For 2022, most of our volunteers have been going into Ukraine. We've composed teams that have been providing service to nearly 1,000 patients since we've started going over," said Scott Oberkrom, CEO and president of Global Care Force. “The types of illnesses, both chronic and acute, range from thyroid issues, cancer, hypertension, diabetes and heart conditions that are there. But virtually all of the patients that our teams are seeing are suffering from anxiety, depression, PTSD, as well.”
Oberkrom said the ideal team consists of three doctors and two nurses. The teams help with injuries or conditions that have gone too long without proper care.
“A lot of these people have been hiding with the Russian occupation in their towns and villages. They've been hiding out in their basements, and a lot of these basements are like a cellar. Not a nice, pretty cellar, but you know, dirt walls. So respiratory issues. We've had a lot of patients who have had coughs, difficulties with breathing, shortness of breath, and a lot of these people are in their 60s and 70s. So, they already have significant, critical, chronic medical conditions. And then it's just exacerbating those medical conditions," Amis said.
From the conditions present before the war, to the injuries it caused, Amis said the team is playing catch up when it comes to many of the patients.
“There's a gentleman who got shrapnel in his foot, and it got infected. He laid in a ditch to keep from being detected by Russian forces for, like, three days," Amis explained. “Finally, we were able to get there, we were able to get him to a hospital and get him medical care... He was discharged from the hospital, and I was following up with him. And he continues to fight this infection. And, you know, it could cost him his foot, just because of the delay of care."
In total, Amis said his volunteer team has seen 300 patients.
“Most of these towns have been leveled. They're rebuilding, but it takes time," Amis said. “These are people's grandparents, and aunts, and uncles, who are disconnected from good medical care because of this war... These people are in desperate need of support to continue their fight.”