Anna Grodzinsky anxiously watched from Kansas City as the Russian invasion of Ukraine has begun. His aunt and 96-year-old grandmother were huddled in their home in central Lviv.
Many sleepless nights followed as Grodzinsky, a cardiologist at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute, observed how the war was affecting access to fresh food, affordable medicine and preventive health care services in the country where she is born.
That’s why she’s volunteering on Saturday with CURE Projecta non-profit organization in partnership with Saint Luke’s Health System, to send more advanced medical supplies to the people of Ukraine.
“They are obviously scared. They are worried. They can’t wait for things to normalize,” she said. “But they are not optimistic that it will happen anytime soon. So they try to move forward pragmatically.
When war broke out, Grodzinsky sent his grandmother small items like arthritis cream.
Along with Project CURE, she will help send over 200 hospital-donated kits filled with medical supplies such as bandages, syringes and wound care equipment worth over $200,000.
Grodzinsky was born in the city of Lviv in western Ukraine. She emigrated with her parents to the United States in 1990 at the age of six.
They landed in Colombia as refugees where a community organization based at the University of Missouri helped support her family’s resettlement. Her father became a nurse and her mother earned a master’s degree in health administration at Mizzou before moving to Kansas City in 1997.
Grodzinsky has returned to Ukraine four times since childhood, most recently in April 2019 when Volodymyr Zelensky was elected President of Ukraine. His sleepy hometown of Lviv was gaining ground as a tourist destination in Eastern Europe.
“At that time, Ukraine was becoming a bit more western, it was getting a bit more tech-savvy, and there were advancements that we considered positive,” she said.
When Russian forces invaded on February 24, she held her breath as the city shook.
Grodzinsky, whose research includes helping pregnant patients with heart disease, saw women in labor running for safety as bombs tore through Ukrainian hospitals.
She followed the media coverage when one of the bombs that hit Lviv landed just a mile from the apartment where she was born and read a New York Times article about a seriously ill boy named Arthur who fled to the border with his mother. He shares a name with Grodzinsky’s own son.
“It strikes a chord when you see the area where you were born under attack,” she said. “I just can’t.”
Grodzinsky set to work raising funds for an unending crisis for both those who fled and those who remained. She also took in a family friend who fled Lviv.
She said it was amazing to see her colleagues contributing financially to support not only her immediate family there, which is “hugely moving”, but also the larger refugee crisis as a whole. She wrote thanks to everyone she knows who has been supportive. They are 35 in total to date.
It’s a sign that while Ukrainian lives have been in limbo for nearly three months, the fatigue of those wishing to help in Kansas City has not set in.
“I hope this is a much-needed sign of solidarity,” Grodzinsky said, later adding, “It’s important for us to do everything we can to support Ukraine’s independence and sovereignty, because it’s such an important channel and such an important buffer.” .”
How to help the CURE project
Project CURE is a nonprofit that ships medical supplies and equipment to more than 135 developing countries around the world, said Kristin Robinson, executive director of the Kansas City site.
The organization has been working in Ukraine with partners for over a decade. Since the start of the war, these partners have helped bring Project CURE shipments to Poland, before crossing the border into Ukraine.
The Kansas City distribution site, which opened in June 2020, still needs volunteers to help prepare shipments from their KC warehouse, Robinson said.
“People feel they want to do something, but they don’t know what they can do to make a difference,” Robinson said. “And so we just like to be an option to really make a difference on the pitch.”
She said they were thrilled Grodzinsky was among those helping out.
Those interested in volunteering can register via projectcure.org/about/location/kansas-city/.