International Medical Corps (IMC), a Los Angeles-headquartered humanitarian group that focuses on emergency medicine in conflict zones worldwide, currently has a team of doctors, nurses and staff throughout Ukraine.
Todd Bernhardt, who directs global communication for IMC, says workers in the north and southeast regions of the country are sheltering in place and will go back out once conditions allow them to do so. (Currently, it’s too dangerous.) In the meantime, they’re distributing medicines and health supplies from their hubs in Poland and Dubai.
He says their top concern is to ensure that Ukraine can maintain a working health care system. That’s why they’re trying to provide medicines, critical care equipment, oxygen supplies, and staff. That includes flying in medical personnel from Poland, Romania, and even the U.S. — should they get a request from the World Health Organization or national governments.
“People are internally displaced within the country. And then there are refugees who have crossed the border. We want to make sure that those people have medicines that they may have left at home to handle chronic conditions like high blood pressure. … We want to make sure that these mothers and [newborn] children continue to get care.”
That includes mental health care. Bernhardt says they have staff who are trained in providing psychological first aid, which they can teach to other first responders too. If someone needs more appropriate or intensive psychological care, they’ll refer them to a local facility they’ve partnered with.
Simultaneously, they’re trying to clamp down on COVID-19 infections.
Are there differences in this Ukraine-Russia conflict compared to other ones he’s familiar with?
“We haven't seen land war in Europe like this for a long time. … This is the largest displacement of people internally and across borders since World War II. … More and more cities could be taken over. People could be cut off from support.”
He continues, “We urge everybody involved to make sure that humanitarian law is followed, that the rights of civilians are respected, that health care facilities are not targeted, that people get the aid they need and have the free movement to be able to escape from the fighting. I think that's what I can say now for sure.”
For those who want to help, they can donate financial support to Ukraine via IMC’s website.