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Medical supplies head to Ukraine from Rochester

The Rochester Medical and Relief Mission Group is coordinating with Ukrainian Health Ministry and relief groups to provide needed supplies.

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Roman Kowalchuk, a native of Ukraine, packs surgical supplies into a box on a pallet in a warehouse in northwest Rochester Friday, March 4, 2022. Those supplies and others were prepared for shipment to Chicago which will go from there to Ukraine.
John Molseed / Post Bulletin
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ROCHESTER — The first of what will likely be many truckloads of medical supplies from the Rochester Medical and Relief Mission Group to Ukraine departed Friday afternoon.

Roman Kowalchuk, a native of Ukraine, scoured the Mission’s warehouse for items the Ukrainian Defense Ministry and Ukrainian hospitals specifically requested.

Kowalchuk has family in Ukraine who are as of Friday unharmed but determined to stay in the country, he said.

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Roman Kowalchuk tests an oxygen concentrator in the Rochester Medical and Relief Mission Group's warehouse of medical supplies. The machine was one of the needed pieces of medical equipment Kowalchuk and other volunteers prepared for shipment to Chicago. From there, the Ukrainian Medical Association of North America will help distribute the supplies to where they're needed.
John Molseed / Post Bulletin

With heavy fighting and civilian casualties mounting across Ukraine since Russia invaded the country Feb. 24, it would be easy to assume anything and everything would help.

Kowalchuk said that’s not necessarily the case.

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“We don’t want to inundate them with things they already have,” he said.

The lists call for surgical kits, hemostatics, which are drugs that help hemorrhaging, and anything else that helps stop bleeding. Oxygen is another important need, he added.

A volunteer helping pack pallets overheard Kowalchuk’s list and showed him an oxygen concentrator. Kowalchuk plugged the machine into a wall socket to confirm it works and prepared it for a truck arriving Friday afternoon to ship the supplies to Chicago.

From there, the Ukrainian Medical Association of North America will distribute the supplies directly to Ukrainian hospitals and the health ministry there.

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The Rochester Medical and Relief Mission Group was founded more than 42 years ago. Leo Wagner, a co-founder, is 95 but was eager to give a quick tour of the Mission’s warehouse of medical supplies.

About 95% of the supplies are donated from Mayo Clinic. The group sends supplies around the world to where they’re needed as well as to local groups that help people in need of medical supplies, said Diane Wagner, who coordinates the group.

Kowalchuk, who is a radiation-oncology resident at Mayo Clinic said he learned about the group from a colleague who helped get medical supplies to Ghana.

The shipment that departed the warehouse Friday will likely be the first of many. People who wish to help with the effort can contact Rochester Medical and Relief Mission Group at 507-282-3634 or email Diage Wagner at wagner4@netscape.com.

John Molseed joined the Post Bulletin in 2018. He covers arts, culture, entertainment, nature and other fun stories he's surprised he gets paid to cover. When he's not writing articles about Southeast Minnesota artists and musicians, he's either picking banjo, brewing beer, biking or looking for other hobbies that begin with the letter "b." Readers can reach John at 507-285-7713 or jmolseed@postbulletin.com.
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