Thirteen pallets of medical supplies were loaded onto a Convoy of Hope semi-truck at Mercy’s supply chain warehouse in north Springfield Friday morning and are now bound for Ukraine, thanks in part to one Mercy employee’s strong ties to the war-torn country.
Alex Limonchenko came from Ukraine to the United States when he was 18 to pursue a career in health care and today works as a respiratory therapist at Mercy Hospital Springfield.
His sister is still there, helping refugees get to safety from her church in central Ukraine. Limonchenko said his sister continually sends him images of what she’s seeing.
“It’s lifesaving because people are dying because of lack of supplies,” Limonchenko said, as the supplies were loaded into the Convoy semi a few feet away. “Russian forces, they are bombing hospitals and innocent people are dying and supply chains are being bombed.”
The donated medical supplies are worth about $106,000. Mercy also gave $25,000 in cash to Convoy of Hope to aid Ukrainian refugees.
Bill Hennessey, vice president of Mission at Mercy, spoke to members of the media who came to the warehouse Friday morning. Hennessey called it an “important moment this morning as we support our brothers and sisters in Ukraine.”
From the day Russia first invaded Ukraine in February, Hennessey said Mercy employees were looking for ways to help and support the Ukrainians.
“We’ve had many conversations in the organization and lots of different ideas popping up throughout the organization,” Hennessey said. “And really, we’ve got to give credit to Alex Limonchenko, who really stepped forward and raised his hand and said, ‘How can we help?’”
Limonchenko reached out to local Mercy leaders, who reached out to Mercy’s strategic supply chain, a news release said.
They worked with Convoy of Hope, a Republic-based disaster relief organization that is already helping with the Ukrainian refugee crisis, on identifying the most-needed medical and surgical supplies.
Convoy’s national spokesperson Ethan Forhetz said the supplies will likely arrive in Poland sometime next week. From there, they will be distributed where most needed in Ukraine.
“We are so grateful for what Mercy is doing here,” Forhetz said. “They see the need and they have an ability to meet the need.”
Keith Schaefer, director of Mission at Mercy, said a prayer moments before the truck was loaded.
“We pray for the people of Ukraine today. We pray for peace and the laying down of weapons,” Schaefer prayed, in part. “We pray for those who fear for tomorrow, that your spirit of comfort would draw near to them. We pray for those with power over war and peace — for wisdom, discernment and compassion to guide their decisions.”
According to the latest report from the World Health Organization, nearly 1,000 health facilities are in proximity to conflict areas or are in changed areas of control, which leaves the health system vulnerable to infrastructural damage and severe disruptions in critical services. As a result, there is limited or no access to medicines, health facilities, and health care workers in some areas.
Between Feb. 24 and March 30, according to the WHO report, a total of 82 attacks on health care (hospitals, ambulances, health care workers) have been reported, resulting in 43 injuries and 72 deaths. Further attacks are being verified, the report said.
Limonchenko’s church, Connect Church, is also working to raise funds to support Ukraine and Convoy’s efforts there. Learn more at connect417.com/outreach/ukraine.
Follow and learn how to support Convoy of Hope’s work in Ukraine and in the surrounding countries where refugees are fleeing by visiting convoyofhope.org.