Trauma in Ukraine: Doctors exchange ideas with Mission Hospital surgeons during visit

Intensive Care: Dr. William Shillinglaw, the medical director of trauma services at Mission Hospital, gives a tour of the intensive care unit at Mission Hospital.

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.

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Patient lifeline: Dr. Shillinglaw, center, talks to the pilot of the Mountain Area Medical Airlift helicopter, with Dr. Alex Linchevskyy, right, from Ukraine.

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.”

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The Mountain Area Medical Airlift is an Airbus EC135 helicopter that typically makes about 1,000 flights per year, operating in a 120 mile radius around Asheville.

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.

Remote diagnosis: this robot allows doctors to diagnose stroke patients from 60 miles away, saving time and potentially lives.
Remote diagnosis: this robot allows doctors to diagnose stroke patients from 60 miles away, saving time and potentially lives.

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.”

Exchanging ideas: Dr. Linchevskyy said the main questions he was asking were about decision making during critical trauma situations.
Exchanging ideas: Dr. Linchevskyy said the main questions he was asking were about decision making during critical trauma situations.
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About Pat Barcas
Pat is a photojournalist and writer who moved to Asheville in 2014. He previously worked for a labor and social rights advocacy newspaper in Chicago. Email him at pbarcas@gmail.com. Follow me @pbarcas

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One thought on “Trauma in Ukraine: Doctors exchange ideas with Mission Hospital surgeons during visit

  1. Joel Welsh

    Thank you, Mr. Barcas, for this article. The region of western North Carolina is fortunate to have the skilled services of our trauma docs, nurses, CNAs, respiratory therapists, rehab therapists, and other inclusive staff that comprise the trauma services of Mission Hospitals.
    It is also fortunate, and required, that we share such information with our allies, at this time the Ukrainians, many of whom live in our immediate community.
    And thank you to the federal Congress for supporting such a program.
    cheers,
    Joel Welsh RN BSN
    Leicester, NC

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