They have been operating on the border between Poland and Ukraine for about ten days. They call them ‘scouts’: they are operators who have the mission of setting up a system. In this case, better organize the transport of patients who arrive from the country struggling with the conflict to the border areas and then, aboard airplanes, reach Italy. Destination: a safe place to continue treatment. A safe place as it is no longer their hospital, their city that has become a theater of war. The passengers are mostly children with cancer, with their mothers and siblings. The team of the Regional Emergency Emergency Agency (Areu) of Lombardy has so far organized 5 of these flights, taking away “about thirty patients with their families, therefore more than 60-70 people”, explains one of them to Adnkronos Salute. , Diego Saggiante, nursing coordinator who returned from Poland at the end of his mission.
The team is based in the city of Rzeswóv “in a central position with respect to the 8 border crossings from which the passage of refugees takes place – reports from Italy the director general of Areu, Alberto Zoli – and near an international airport”, in which the planes from Italy land and then leave and take them away from bombs, mortars, shelters, sirens, destroyed houses. “Two children were asking us if you could hear shooting and bombing here too,” says Saggiante. They want to leave the sounds of war behind.
“They have had so many misfortunes – he observes – already the war is in itself, it is something unimaginable. And they are afraid. I will give just one example: in these days among the little patients we took away, there were two children with their mothers. When we had to fix them they didn’t want two different rooms, they wanted to be together, because they are scared “. In the team at work in Poland “there is a doctor, there is me and another nurse, an interpreter who is really important because it allows us to overcome the language barrier, and three rescue drivers”, she lists. “Everyone is important to the teamwork we are doing.”
“For us it is a special job – says Saggiante – These people come out of a war, they have sick children, even with rather advanced tumors. I have a 15-year-old son. And one can only imagine the desperation of a mother. in this situation, with a child who has to undergo chemo or radiotherapy, but cannot do it because the hospital is destroyed, because there are no drugs, because the situation is difficult with the continuous rush to shelters, and has no chance but go away to a destination where the treatment can continue. In addition, they are thrown into a new reality, after perhaps having walked for hours to cross the border, while the men of the family remain in Ukraine “.
“In this complicated situation – he continues – we have tried to give them support”, with this operation “which is called MedEvac, medical evacuation, which is our target. Those who want to escape and are fine move by bus, manage to organize themselves, follows a different path. But a patient no, he cannot and cannot make it. We take these children, we collect their entire history, we visit them, we transmit their clinical documentation, which is translated to us by the interpreter, to the remote center of the emergency medical operations (Cross). And Cross, which collects the availability of all Italian hospitals, on the basis of the clinical history of each patient, sorts it to the hospital which is the best for the type of pathology he has “. Among the patients who were transported “also a sick person unable to move on a stretcher”. The smallest passenger? “A one year old, one year and a half”.
“What struck us is also that we found a lot of solidarity everywhere. In the hospitals they welcomed us and gave us everything we needed – highlights Saggiante – At the moment we are organized to receive people to be transported to some accommodation facilities in the area. where we bring them with the support of NGOs such as Soleterre. In the hotels they have reserved us the maximum of hospitality: in a structure they thought we would go over with the children before leaving, and they had bought the croissants to give to them and their families. When the little patients arrive, they give them clothes, they help them a lot with what they need. At the airport we have preferential channels, they help us carry luggage and accompany people “.
“Nothing can be done alone here – specifies Saggiante – and we have teamed up, and we have obtained the maximum support from our colleagues in the Agency who operate from Lombardy. We have opened the way a little. For us the goal was already bring patients that we knew we had to transfer to Italy. But then we moved, we went to the border, to the reception centers and we started relationships, to expand our action. We also transported other patients, for example a woman with cancer to the breast that must be operated on urgently and will go to Italy. Now we are passing the deliveries to the new group made up of colleagues from the Gaslini hospital in Genoa, with which the business will also be able to expand “.
“Among the people we brought there are also patients who arrived directly at the checkpoints, immediately on this side of the Polish border – adds Zoli – The Areu team also goes to recover patients from the points from which they left Ukraine. This where they operate is the most important area, Poland alone has almost 65% of the passage of refugees. So, putting ourselves in the center of this area, we can also go to collect patients from other reception centers that are at a ‘hour and a half or two “.
The best moment? “To see them leave – concludes Saggiante – to see that they have hopes. I am moved when I see them get on the plane, because I think they have crossed a country in war, which they have lost a lot, perhaps they no longer have a home, someone no longer has relatives or does not know where they are because they are missing, and they have walked for maybe 4 hours to cross the border. You take them and bring them here, you load them on a plane and it is a thrill to see them smile. My colleague and I there we take a picture with each of them, we say goodbye and we stay to see the plane that takes off. It is undoubtedly the most beautiful moment “.
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