Ukraine – ‘have you cemented crowns with explosions nearby?’

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Leo Jurkiw speaks to Oleksandr Dikalo, director of Dental Clinic 8 Kharkiv, about life practising as a dentist, while in the course of a battle with Russia.

Please inform me about your self.

I’ve been the top of considered one of Kharkiv’s dental clinics for 18 years now. And I’ve been working in dentistry since 1979. I’m a graduate of the Kharkiv Medical College.

I used to be in Kharkiv myself within the early Nineteen Nineties, I’m certain quite a bit has modified since then. 

It was just the start of Ukrainian independency within the Nineteen Nineties. We nonetheless had the legacy of the Soviet Union, and the system inherited was one from the Soviet Union. 

We now have a very completely different system now.

As we speak all dentistry in Ukraine is just not freed from cost. All state dental clinics now turned communal non-for-profit enterprises.

There’s a bundle of free companies assured by the state. This contains free medical assist for kids below 18 (deliberate in addition to emergency dental companies), emergency companies for adults together with pensioners over 65 and prosthetic dental therapy for pensioners, which is roofed by native authority.

All deliberate remedies for adults should not freed from cost. There are additionally particular programmes below which native authorities launch funds for previous age pensioners.

I perceive that you just work in a municipal dental clinic in Kharkiv. What number of different clinics are there within the metropolis?

There are seven different dental clinics in Kharkiv. As well as, there’s a dental clinic for kids, and one other that gives companies to the entire Kharkiv area.

So we now have eight dental clinics for the inhabitants of Kharkiv, one other one for kids, and one different for the entire area.

Little doubt your clinic would usually have many dentists working there. Have all of them stayed or have some left?

It’s best to perceive that it’s each individual’s proper to remain or go away the town. You in all probability perceive that there are highly effective explosions in Kharkiv, it’s always shelled. We now have loads of casualties right here. It’s troublesome to remain right here in Kharkiv.

Have you ever ever cemented crowns when there are explosions close by? Yesterday I cemented crowns listening to explosions – that’s the way it was.

So, now we now have 5 dentists working, one medical nurse, two cleaners, and two safety personnel who guard the clinic at evening.

What particularly was it like for you when the battle broke out? What had been your ideas, and what affect did it have on you?

There was confusion. While you get up at half previous 4 within the morning, and one thing flies over your head and explodes, at first you could have confusion, you don’t perceive. It’s unclear what’s occurring.

And the very first thing I stated to my spouse was: ‘You go to work by your self, and I’ll go to mine shortly, as a result of I don’t know what’s occurring’.

I used to be at work by half previous six within the morning. Sure selections want taking. And I wanted to get in contact with the native Division of Well being Companies.

The response from the town authority in Kharkiv was very immediate. Sure focused actions had been undertaken: they decided what to do, how, why, and in what order. That’s to say, their actions had been structured, concerted, and properly ordered.

We work in the identical method now. I’ll inform you this: each single establishment stays in operation. The place services are destroyed – workers provide consultations on-line or on the telephone. The place services are intact – we work continuous day and evening, no days off, no holidays, we work and work, each considered one of us.

There’s a hospital for emergency assist, the place the top of the Dental and Facial Surgical procedure Division has been dwelling there for 44 days already.

The division is filled with sufferers with periostitis, phlegmon, abscess. Surgical operations are carried out continuous, he by no means leaves the place. He entered it on 24 February and simply lives there. The remainder of the workers are the identical.

So that you perceive what’s occurring. However the healthcare system in Kharkiv features in wartime simply because it did in peacetime – continuous. And nobody, not a single member of our metropolis council has left, all of them keep put.

Every single day we keep in contact with them through telephone and messenger.

I perceive that your daughter Daria is presently in Budapest. Did your spouse additionally go away the nation?

My spouse stays in Kharkiv. She is a health care provider – head of the Physiotherapy Division within the Metropolis Hospital of Ambulance and Emergency Medical Care. 

And do you could have different household dwelling in Kharkiv?

Nobody has left. My mom lives in Kharkiv, she is 86 years of age. She lives on the fourth flooring of a 12-storey condominium block. And she or he stated: ‘I’m not leaving my flat. That is my dwelling and I’m not going wherever’.

My mother-in-law can be right here. She is 92 years of age, she can’t go away as a result of she is bodily too frail.

Inform me what the town seems like the place you reside and the place you’re employed.

The town is saved tidy, being cleaned, garbage is taken away, communal companies restore electrical energy provide, water provide, gasoline provide very effectively.

And let me inform you that they’re even planting flowers within the metropolis. Our mayor stated: ‘The battle carries on, however Kharkiv has all the time been an attractive metropolis, and we’re going to hold it that method.’

Is there loads of battle injury within the metropolis?

That is official knowledge – greater than 1,200 residential buildings have been destroyed [to date].

Giant 12- and 16-storey condominium blocks, not small homes. That is official info, you may look it up on the Kharkiv metropolis council web site.

Geographically, Kharkiv is 40km away from the Russian border. Subsequently this query is rhetorical. 

Is there loads of give you the results you want simply now?

Within the first few days there weren’t many individuals. They had been in shock, however now life is coming again to regular.

Individuals who left Kharkiv within the first days of the battle are coming again. There are extra vehicles round, extra individuals. For instance, yesterday we handled 66 sufferers, at this time 69.

So persons are coming to get assist. That’s the reason I imagine the town goes on dwelling.

What’s it that you just want proper now to proceed offering dental companies for the inhabitants?

What we’re in need of!

Leo, what can I say, proper now Dasha, my daughter, has organised a supply of provides from Budapest, which arrived at this time. It’s sufficient for a sure time frame.

I additionally provided a colleague of mine to share what I’ve.

Having stated that, anaesthetics are necessary, you may by no means have too many. If I’ve a surplus, there are seven extra dental clinics within the metropolis, and I can share provides with colleagues.

Briefly, anaesthetics, anaesthetics, anaesthetics are necessary. We now have loads of bandage materials coming by humanitarian assist. However we don’t get particular dental provides we’re in want of, specifically the anaesthetics. 

Clearly, we want needles as properly. For every cartridge of anaesthetic, we want one needle.  

Last query, what are your hopes and expectations for the long run?

I need to do my work in peace as earlier than. Stay in peace as earlier than, in my very own state.

I don’t have lengthy to go earlier than retirement and I need to go on doing my work in peace till then.

I want to go on working and keep on as head of the clinic. To go on providing therapy to our individuals in our nation.

I don’t need to reside below shelling, I don’t need to see individuals die, and I don’t need to reside below the flag of one other nation.

Do you perceive what I imply by dwelling below one other flag? Sure, we now have our personal yellow-and-blue nationwide flag, and I would like it to remain that method.


Leo Jurkiw is currently organising dental humanitarian aid to go to Ukraine.

To assist Leo, go to his Justgiving web page www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/dentists-stand-with-ukraine or e-mail him on [email protected].

Hear extra from dentists within the Ukraine under:



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