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Ukrainian Physicians Visit UTHSC, Establish Ongoing Dialogue

A delegation of physicians and interpreters from Ukraine met with UTHSC College of Medicine Executive Dean Scott Strome, MD, third from left, and Jon McCullers, MD, senior executive associate dean of Clinical Affairs and chief operating officer for the college, second from left, during a trip to Memphis hosted by Friendship Force of Memphis last week.

A visit to Memphis by four physicians from Ukraine last week established a connection with the College of Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center for advice and support in the future.

The physicians were hosted in Memphis July 22-30 by Friendship Force of Memphis through the Open World Program, a Congressionally sponsored exchange program. Along with UTHSC, the delegation visited several local health care institutions, including Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, the Memphis VA Medical Center, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Regional One Health, and Methodist University Hospital.

They were particularly interested in learning about methods for treating burns, trauma and intensive care practices, and other protocols that would aid them in their efforts to help those injured in the war in Ukraine.

The contingent included Viktoriia Viktorivna Savchuk, Halyna Volodymyrivna Saian, Roman Mykolaiovych Chornopyshchuk, and Maksym Yurliovych Chubak. A fifth physician, Oleksii Viktorovych Nosulko, was unable to make the trip due to battlefield responsibilities, said Richard Thomas, PhD, from Friendship Force, who led their tour. Dr. Thomas is an associate professor in the UTHSC Department of Preventive Medicine.

The group had the opportunity to meet with members of the UTHSC Global Surgery Institute, as well as to tour the Firefighters Burn Center and the Elvis Presley Trauma Center at Regional One Health, and the UTHSC Center for Healthcare Improvement and Patient Simulation.

Scott Strome, MD, executive dean of the UTHSC College of Medicine, hosted the delegation for a lunch on Tuesday, July 26.

 “We have a passion for human life and equality, and we have worked really hard to make sure we improve access for people (to health care), which is a big problem in our community,” Dean Strome said.

“We all hear the stories and news feeds about the horror of what is going on (in Ukraine), and as a community, we’ve sent money and supplies,” he continued. “But as a college of medicine, we would like your perspective on what we can do to help you more.”

Nia Zalamea, MD, FACS, assistant professor of general surgery, director of the UTHSC Global Surgery Institute, and associate director of the UTHSC Center for Multicultural and Global Health, recently led local efforts to send tons of hospital supplies, surgical instruments, blankets, stretchers, and other equipment to surgeon partners in Ukraine through a foundation, the Memphis Mission of Mercy, founded by her family. She was among UTHSC faculty meeting with the visitors.

Dean Strome spoke with the physicians about reconstructive surgery for wounds. Jim Bailey, MD, director of the Center for Health Systems Improvement and executive director for the Tennessee Population Health Consortium at UTHSC, provided a perspective on issues with the current health care system locally and nationally.

”As a result of the meeting at UTHSC, we believe that communications regarding medical and surgical treatments will continue between UTHSC faculty physicians and the Ukrainian physicians,” Dean Strome said.