Asheville is very far from Eastern Ukraine in terms of geographics, culture and stability, but the worldwide fraternity of trauma surgeons crosses cultural boundaries, sharing the same mission of saving lives.
Mission Hospital sought to educate four doctors from Ukraine Feb. 18 as they toured the level-two trauma center and gathered knowledge to bring back home.
“Trauma surgeons really are all the same. We read the same books, we are educated the same,” said Alex Linchevskyy, a visiting thoracic and trauma surgeon who works in a military hospital on the front lines in Ukraine. “When speaking about trauma, one third of patients could die in the hospital, all due to simple decisions. My vast majority of questions today were about the decision-making techniques of the surgeons here.”
The visit was part of a Congressionally funded program call Open World, which conducts international exchanges with leaders in the former Soviet republics. The local host organization is Friendship Force of WNC, which hosts the doctors during their 10-day visit. The trip to the trauma center was designed to educate those working in the unstable region of Ukraine, where they’re seeing critical injuries more and more, as well as symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder.
“This is about exposing them to what might benefit them,” said Bill Hogan, host coordinator for the WNC chapter of Friendship Force International. “The goal is for them to be exposed to this, take it back to their country, and influence policymakers back there on different techniques on how to deal with the wounded.”
The doctors toured with Dr. William Shillinglaw, the medical director of trauma services at Mission Hospital. He showed them the trauma unit, the Mountain Area Medical Airlift helicopter, the intensive care unit and the neonatal intensive care unit.
Linchevskyy said he has toured trauma centers around the world and always values hearing opinions.
“You can have high sophisticated technologies, but if you don’t understand the techniques to stabilize, you will lose patients,” he said. “I enjoyed the tour today and the information exchange.”