In a place like Ukraine, in a time like this, there is always more to be done.
Cranbrook’s Dr. Tracey Parnell knows this well, having visited the country three times in the past year to provide medical support. She planned her first visit after hearing from a doctor on the front lines, someone she’d collaborated with on previous research, who was now helping perform life-saving surgeries on Ukrainian civilians injured during the Russian invasion.
“I talked with her first, but by the time I got to Lviv I was connected with lots of other doctors and NGOs who needed help,” Dr. Parnell says.
She’s now preparing for her fourth visit to the war-torn country, with six major projects planned.
“The need is overwhelming, so I’m trying to focus on big projects for emergency care on the front lines. But I was also approached to help set up primary care in recently liberated areas, which is a manageable project that we can accomplish relatively quickly,” she says. “It’s a great project for the community in Cranbrook and Kimberley to get behind. We can make a real difference.”
‘We can save a lot of people who shouldn’t have to die’
Since the Russian invasion began nearly a year ago, many Ukrainians have had to put their health care on pause. People living with diabetes, heart disease and other chronic conditions have not had consistent access to medication, monitoring or professional care. Now Dr. Parnell is raising funds to purchase medical supplies to help residents of recently liberated areas catch up on primary health care.
“We have the medical staff, but we need very basic equipment and medicine – blood pressure cuffs, heart rate monitors, urine strips to do pregnancy tests and other simple things that Canadians can pick up at the pharmacy, but Ukrainians don’t have access to right now,” Dr. Parnell says. “These doctors are the most dedicated and passionate people. They’re delivering babies in a war zone and it’s terrifying.”
Michelle Gray from Gray’s Compounding Pharmacy has been a friend and collaborator of Dr. Parnell’s for over two decades, and has stepped in to lead the fundraising efforts for this project.
“So many of us want to help, but aren’t sure what we can do from here. Dr. Parnell is a military-trained doctor who’s right in the thick of things, helping people survive with very limited tools. We can collect funds to purchase the supplies she needs,” Michelle says.
On a previous visit to Ukraine, Dr. Parnell was asked by a woman to visit her aging mother in Bakhmut.
“She was a wonderful little old lady in a very scary place. She was living in her basement because all the windows in her home had been blown out by shelling. She has Parkinson’s, diabetes and heart disease and her daughter knew that if a bomb didn’t get her, these chronic diseases would,” Dr. Parnell says. “I’ve been very focused on people dying from traumatic wounds, but there’s so many other people who need care too.”
If people in the Kootenays can get behind this project, Dr. Parnell says a lot of people can be helped very quickly.
“We can’t stop the bombs, but we can save a lot of people who shouldn’t have to die,” she says.
To donate, visit Gray’s Compounding Pharmacy at 417B 304th St. on Highway 95 in Kimberley, open Monday to Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. You can also get in touch by calling 250-427-0038, emailing email@example.com, or at facebook.com/grayspharmacy.
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