Dwar is a cruel teacher. The one who knows no mercy, no break. At least that’s what Peter Romchuk says. He works in a hospital in western Ukraine. Soldiers are brought there every week. A train with wounded brings them from the front to the hospital. Sometimes there are twenty of them, sometimes thirty in one fell swoop. Many had wounds that had previously only been treated temporarily. The war taught him to make quick and often radical decisions, Romshchuk says. He and his team often had to amputate limbs – even though attempting alternative treatment would certainly have been possible under different underlying conditions and with different resources. But this is primarily about saving lives. The war taught him early on not to look back, but to act decisively.
Romshchuk is one of a small delegation of Ukrainian doctors who are undergoing a four-week internship at the BG emergency clinic in Frankfurt. A total of 72 specialists, including occupational therapists and physiotherapists, will have the opportunity to undergo advanced training in six locations in the coming months, including in the field of rehabilitation. No less important than the often life-saving operations is the subsequent physiotherapeutic support of the patient and the provision of prostheses. The exchange was made possible thanks to the Aurora Project, which is supported by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and the Clinical Partnership funding program of the German Society for International Cooperation.
Several days have passed since four Ukrainian doctors arrived in Frankfurt. They look a little tired and almost scared by the many new treatment and care options available to doctors and therapists in Germany. In Ukraine, the prosthetics offered to patients are often much simpler, says Dr. Maxim Rybinsky, referring to a modern prosthesis that allows the wearer to climb stairs, for example, without tightening the prosthesis. “We don’t have good material.” Communication will take place in English. It’s not so simple on both sides – who knows the dictionary for “tree stump care”?
Sebastian Benner, senior physician and specialist in orthopedics and trauma surgery, knows what to do. He describes, shows, explains – if necessary, even in pantomime. The prosthesis, which has caused so much admiration among Ukrainian doctors, is worn by Tatyana Shock. She lost her lower leg after a serious car accident. Just a year after the accident, thanks to modern medicine, good prosthetics, training and numerous rehabilitation units, she was able to perform almost all the sequences of movements that were possible before the accident. Her gait is unremarkable, and with the help of a special sports prosthesis, she can even jog again.
“A great, responsive prosthesis is useless without proper care and rehabilitation,” she says. And this seems to be one of the biggest differences between treatment options in Germany and Ukraine. Although doctors continue to closely monitor Tatiana Shock years after the amputation, and the young woman is now in contact with some of these doctors, Ukrainian doctors usually do not know what life will be like for a patient after surgery. The clinic and rehabilitation structures are separated from each other. “Any of our hospitals would collapse if patients stayed there that long,” Romshchuk says. Sebastian Benner also learned from a conversation with colleagues: “Traumatologists in Ukraine are now waging two wars in parallel. The one we all notice. And the one in clinics. The stress just doesn’t get any less.”
Trauma surgeon Romshchuk hopes to “take away as many impressions as possible.” He was particularly impressed by the strict standards of procedures in the German operating room and in everyday hospital life. However, both parties benefit from the exchange. According to Maxim Rybinsky, Ukrainian traumatologists also learned a lot during the months of war. For example, due to the large number of seriously injured patients, they are accustomed to a highly efficient and resource-efficient way of working, says Romshchuk. They also unwittingly became more confident when it comes to “triage,” that is, quickly deciding which patient should be treated first. War is a cruel teacher.
Source: Frantfurter Allgemeine
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