DUBLIN, Ohio (WCMH) — A nurse practitioner from Dublin is on her way to Poland, where she plans to help Ukrainian refugees along the border.
Jessie Kichigin, who works for urgent care clinics within the OhioHealth system, left Columbus Friday after weeks of contacting organizations to figure out how she can help Ukrainians fleeing the war-torn country.
When Russia initially invaded Ukraine in February, Kichigan said she was glued to live news coverage for about a week.
“You’re just sitting here watching everything unfold, and you just get so frustrated because you can’t do anything,” Kichigin said. “For me, it wasn’t really a matter of if I was going. It was a matter of when.”
Kichigin said she’s always wanted to participate in a humanitarian mission, but this mission is personal for her; her father is a Russian immigrant and her mother immigrated from Ukraine. They met in the United States after leaving their home countries around the collapse of the Soviet Union, Kichigin said.
She said she still has relatives in Ukraine.
“My aunt was able to get out with her son, so I’m hopefully going to be seeing them while I’m in Poland as well,“ Kichigin said. “My uncle is kind of stuck in there because he’s in that military age, my grandparents are too stubborn to leave. They love their country. They love their city.”
Kichigin is traveling with a volunteer medical group called Love4, which expects to find a major need for first aid near Poland’s border with Ukraine.
“A lot of families have actually come over on foot, so they’re traveling days — they’ve been waiting days on the border in very, very cold weather,” Kichigin said. “We are expecting to see pneumonias, we’re expecting to see asthma exacerbations. Unfortunately, because of all the people clustered together, there have been big Covid outbreaks, and it’s really affecting some pediatric patients.”
Other health care companies in central Ohio are sending aid to Ukraine, including Mount Carmel Health System.
“Locally, we’ve asked our employees to support relief efforts through the U.S. Ukraine Foundation and other charitable organizations aiding in the support of Ukraine,” a spokesperson for Mt. Carmel Health System said. “Our parent company, Trinity Health, is working with our supply chain contacts to coordinate medical supply donations for hospitals in Ukraine and urging our suppliers across the country to do the same. As a healing ministry, our hearts are with the people of Ukraine as we watch the continued devastation and violence they are suffering.”
Nationwide Children’s Hospital is working with the Children’s Hospital Association to monitor needs in Ukraine, according to a spokesperson.
OhioHealth, made up of more than 35,000 associates, physicians, and volunteers, said in a statement that its hospital is providing aid to combat the “tremendous devastation from weeks of attacks” against Ukrainians.
“As a faith-based organization, we are working directly with the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) to provide monetary donations, as well as donations of medical and other supplies,” an OhioHealth spokesperson said. “Our values drive us to show compassion in times like these and our associates have stepped up to support relief efforts through UMCOR and the American Red Cross.”