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Video: MetroHealth Shares Burn Care Expertise with Ukrainian Physicians

A group of physicians from Ukraine visited MetroHealth last week as part of an 8-day trip to Northeast Ohio to learn the latest techniques in burn surgery and intensive care.

It's a need that has heightened drastically since February, when Russian forces invaded Ukraine.

The five physicians all work in the burn units of hospitals in some of Ukraine's biggest cities. They flew from Washington, D.C. to the Akron-Canton Airport on July 22, their itinerary filled with visits to foundations, non-profit organizations such as MedWish International, and meetings with elected officials.

Their time at MetroHealth on the afternoons of July 25 and July 28 was jam packed. It included a tour of the Burn Center; lectures and Q & A learning sessions; a visit to the Simulation Center (among the breakout sessions included practice using surgical instruments and skin harvesting tools on pig skin); and the chance to observe a surgical procedure.   

One of the presentations was given by Pavlo Shkraba, an anesthesiologist assistant who joined MetroHealth in 2015. A Ukraine native, he moved to the United States in 2003. During a presentation that stretched into lunch, he fielded questions about everything from fluid resuscitation to airway management and pain control.

"It was a really cool experience," Pavlo said.

The visit was prompted by the U.S. government reaching out to Open World, an arm of Congress. A University Hospitals internist who is the son of Ukrainian immigrants helped set up the MetroHealth visit.

Before the war, the most common injuries that physicians saw in the Burn Unit of Kyiv City Clinical Hospital #2 (one five main burn centers in Ukraine) were from "everyday life," usually sustained at home, said Olena Mykhailivna Svyrydiuk, a physician who also works at a regional children's hospital.

That has changed.

"In our practice we often have to deal with burns on bigger surfaces," she said through a translator. "This is because there is war in progress and many patients come to us with wounds caused by explosions.

"What we are seeing and learning here is expanding our knowledge and we'll be able to use some of the new ideas and techniques that we've learned," she said. The group flew back to Ukraine on July 30.

The Ukrainian physicians – all of whom are in their 30s and 40s – were very motivated, knowledgeable, and fun to work with, said MetroHealth surgeon Casey Kohler, MD.

"We were able to discuss a lot of our surgical techniques and learn from each other," she said. "The Ukrainian team was very into surgical reconstruction, and that is quite impressive.

"To see another team that is so versed in surgery created a lot of great discussion," she said. "With the help of Global Ties Akron and Open World we have formed a relationship so we may continue to provide teaching opportunities. It's what we do, and we are happy to help."

About The MetroHealth System

Founded in 1837, MetroHealth is leading the way to a healthier you and a healthier community through service, teaching, discovery, and teamwork. Cuyahoga County’s public, safety-net hospital system, MetroHealth meets people where they are, providing care through five hospitals, four emergency departments, and more than 20 health centers and 40 additional sites. Each day, our nearly 9,000 employees focus on providing our community with equitable health care–through patient-focused research, access to care, and support services–that seeks to eradicate health disparities rooted in systematic barriers For more information, visit