Husband and wife doctor team runs front-line hospital and treats the civilians wounded by shelling
“If the general runs away from the hospital, what happens to the army?” Arkadii Glushenko said with a shrug one morning, the near-constant sound of outgoing shelling reverberating just outside his first-floor office window. “I have to help people. It doesn’t matter if they are army or civilians. It doesn’t matter gender, faith, or who you are.”
We tell a piercing story of resistance, documented by The Washington Post.
Arkadii Glushenko, 62, and Valentyna Glushenko, 58, are among a dwindling number of civilians willing to stay in this enclave in the east of Ukraine, where the threat of a Russian takeover looms ever closer. Their children have begged them to do the same — to run, to leave their work behind, “to stay alive.” But even as Russian forces push closer, with positions now just about seven miles from this eastern city; the two doctors are refusing to budge.
Arkadii and Valentyna met at the hospital in Sloviansk decades ago. He was an ambitious first-year surgical resident; she was his intuitive operating room nurse. They married in 1984, and she gave birth to a son that same year and another four years later. Arkadii persuaded Valentyna to return to medical school to become a doctor. She focused on gynecology while he worked as a surgeon and cared for their sons. The intensity of the job meant she learned at a young age that she would need to make personal sacrifices for her career. The couple experienced difficult times in Ukraine’s early days as an independent nation.
But they could have never imagined the circumstances they now find themselves in as they treat mainly civilians wounded in Russia’s war on Ukraine — the vast majority injured by shelling. They and the other staff members who opted to stay behind are continuing to treat patients even as they contend with the enormous risk of Russian assault, including its personal consequences.
Hospital staff members have had to adjust to the new wartime reality. In the basement of the hospital, they have set up an operating room in the bunker that is prepared to accommodate patients for most major surgeries or childbirth.
With no running water, staff members wash their hands with water from plastic bottles. When the power was cut last week, they rushed to transport many elderly patients to hospitals farther from the front line, fearing they could no longer properly care for them and knowing the need to free up more beds for incoming urgent cases. When a water truck pulled up outside, staff rushed to fill up buckets and other containers.
Sometimes, Arkadii said, he catches himself thinking “the weather is nice” or “it’s quiet.”
“The next thought is: ‘I hope the war stops,'” he said. “But then I realize it’s not going to stop, not today or tomorrow.”