GPNow’s Ukrainian Crisiscare – Remarkable progress and moving stories on 6PR with Karalee Katsambanis

18-year-old UKrainian

The success of our Ukrainian CrisisCare Telehealth Service (UCTS) has only been possible thanks to the generous volunteers and donors who have given their time and money to help get this program up and running, so we’re always grateful for any opportunity to talk about UCTS in the media and raise awareness of the work we’re doing, reach more supporters, and help even more Ukrainians.

Our CEO Robert Hicken was a guest on 6PR again recently, talking to Karalee Katsambanis about what’s been happening with UCTS, and how listeners can get involved in this life-changing program.

Robert told Karalee about the remarkable progress we’ve made in the short time since we launched UCTS.

Robert is the first to admit that the dream he had back in March to create a service that could assist vulnerable Ukrainians was, in his own words, a crazy, crackpot idea! While we’d managed to launch successful Telehealth services locally in the past, such as our Project Marjum initiative to support remote Indigenous communities and our BushfireCare program, replicating this on a global scale was a whole new ball game. 

However, we were able to build a virtual clinic of more than 60 medical professionals, including psychologists, neurologists, cardiologists and paediatricians, many of whom are Ukrainians themselves, along with a network of translators and support staff to keep the service running. We’ve even got a vet on board, to give advice to families who are caring for pets!

The entire journey has been incredibly moving for all involved, as we’ve been able to provide our patients with everything from day-to-day primary care through to help with deeply distressing issues. We’ve worked with suicidal patients, discharged soldiers dealing with PTSD, and sexual assault victims – all of whom would have found it near impossible to access medical assistance without UCTS.

We’ve supported more than 4,000 families in Ukraine, including those trapped in occupied territories, as well as refugees who have fled to Europe and elsewhere, with free medical advice, comfort, and care at what is undoubtedly the most difficult time of their lives. 

One of those 4,000 people is 18-year-old Anastasiia, also known as Anna, who is originally from Kyiv but now lives in a hostel in Poland. Like many women who have fled the conflict, Anna is alone and afraid – her husband is a soldier and he’s still back home in Ukraine. 

What makes Anna’s story so unique is that not only has she fled a warzone, which is traumatic enough in itself, but she is also suffering from a life-threatening form of throat and neck cancer, and she is unable to receive the correct treatment for her condition in Poland.

The surgery she needs has just a 50% probability of success. It’s also extremely dangerous, and there is a risk Anna could become quadriplegic as a result of the procedure.

Our beautiful UCTS Practice Manager, Tanya Alhamad, has taken Anna under her wing, and reached out to our Chief Medical Office Dr Vadim Ilyashenko for help. With support from the amazing April Chepovsky, a registered nurse from California, we’ve been able to have Anna assessed by one of the best oncology specialists at Yale New Haven Clinic, and we’re now working hard to find a way to get Anna to the US for her surgery.

This is going to be both a challenging and expensive process. We need to organise transport to the US via Germany, arrange Anna’s travel documents and accommodation, and of course, there is the cost of the operation itself – but we’re not giving up.

If you’re able to help in any way – whether that’s volunteering your time as a medical professional or translator, gifting a donation in your loved ones’ names for Christmas, or getting on board as a corporate sponsor – Anna, and all of us at UCTS, would really appreciate it. Find out more about how you can help us help Ukraine.