The Martha’s Vineyard Hospital has been contributing to the Ukrainian war efforts by providing aid in the form of donated medical supplies.
The hospital sprang into action when board member Edward Miller was approached by Ukrainian American Iya Labunka, coordinator of the early March rally at Five Corners to support the people of Ukraine.
Miller “immediately said yes” to the request, promptly connecting Labunka with MVH president and CEO Denise Schepici to coordinate the donation.
“The hospital did a wonderful thing,” Labunka told The Times, adding that she was currently driving the second shipment of donations from Wareham to New Jersey with her nephew Matt Labunka in a rented U-Haul. The nonprofit Razom for Ukraine, where they’re dropping off the supplies, was selected because it’s one of the very few organizations that can ship aid directly to Ukraine, Labunka said: “It’s well organized.”
Around 500 boxes of medical supplies have been donated by the hospital, equaling an estimated $5,000, MVH communications specialist Marissa Lefebvre told the Times. Hospital staff, in addition to their normal responsibilities, helped in loading the boxes and transporting them to Labunka’s car.
Among the donations were various frontline trauma aid supplies ranging from “tourniquets to compression bandages, to neck braces,” stated a recent MVH press release.
One of the most emotionally difficult parts of the efforts for the volunteer team, Labunka said, was packing up the body bags the hospital had handed over for donation, a humbling reminder of the severity of the country’s current crisis.
Since the onset of Russia’s invasion on Feb. 24, Ukraine has had nearly 5,000 reported civilian casualties; more than 2,000 killed, and nearly 3,000 injured as of April 17, according to the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
“Many people were involved in making this happen,” Labunka told the Times in an email. Those who received praise for helping in the efforts were Renee Stempien, assistant terminal manager at Cape Cod Express; the “initial shipment was transported off-Island and held by the company” before making its way to the distribution center. Additionally, said Labunka, Renee “volunteered [the company’s] resources without me even asking,” adding that the transportation of the donations, “which became a concern — once [she] saw how generous the hospital had been,” was very much appreciated.
Of the hospital’s contribution, Labunka said, “I am deeply moved and grateful to Denise Schepici of Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, who came through … without hesitation … as well as all the other Islanders who helped make this deeply generous and lifesaving donation happen.
“The Island has shown its support for the incredibly brave men and women of Ukraine who are resisting tyranny and laying down their lives in the fight against this horrific and unprovoked war of aggression and genocide being perpetrated on a peace-loving people who just want to live normally in their democratically elected sovereign nation,” said Labunka in the release.
“It takes a village … or an Island.”
“If there’s one thing I learned in the past two years,” said Schepici in the release, “it’s that our community can do great things when we work together, and this is no different.”