Sunday, February 25

This is how babies and children are protected in bunkers at the Odessa children’s hospital


sound the air raid alarms on Odessa and in the Children’s Hospital largest in the Ukrainian city the sanitation workers are preparing to go down to the children and neonates to the bunkers underground. But some babies don’t have the choice protect yourself from possible attacks. The plan of evacuation underground begins with the siren, which sounds like a fire alarm. The Dr. Vladafrom the Department of Traumatology, is in charge throughout the day of organizing families with their babies to go down to the bunkers as long as you keep the alertwhich is activated by a possible threat to Odessaone of the objectives of the Russian troops.

But on one of the floors is the living room intensive care and resuscitation of the neonates. Some babieswhich do not weigh even a kilo, are intubated or waiting for one operationand they do not have the possibility of being lowered to the bunkers, for which the sanitation companies only have one option left: turn off the light to avoid being seen and protect the plant as much as possible, even with mattresses.

In line and down the stairs, some of the mothers who can go down with their children carry them in the baby carrier and place themselves in the different hospital shelters Odessa Children’s Clinic, where they wait anxiously for the alarm to stop. The hospital director, Tatiana Pokatilovatells Efe that they have “everything organized” by the time the alarm sounds, which can be heard several times in one day, especially at dawn, with “staff in each building dedicated to evacuation plan“.

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Cellophane and mattresses on the windows

But in the intensive care unit“we cannot protect them, we only put cellophane in crystals that have been reinforced and we cover the windows with curtains and even with mattresses,” she explains. The doctor points out that it is “impossible” to get those babies down who are either recovering or in dire straits, as most can survive by being connected to the ventilation systems.

Natalia Sivolovhead of the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit for neonates and children, points out that she also “turn off the light” so as not to be seen from outside, since they have afraid that him children’s hospital is one of the objectives of the Russian attacks, as happened last week in the maternal and child hospital in the city of Mariúpol, according to the Ukrainian authorities. In the ICU room for neonates, with capacity for up to twelve babies, mothers cannot stay, although they can enter to visit them for a few minutes.

The mother of one of the babies desperately waiting for some news, squatting and not looking up, no matter what the siren is alerting. Sivolav tells Efe that his little one may not survive tonight as he was born with a serious heart defect.

in another room is Darya23 years old, who already has his son Svyatoslav in arms for the first day after he was released from the ICU yesterday. Coming from a small town in the Mikolaiv area, one of the shield cities that the Russians are attacking and which is the gateway to Odessa, Darya gave birth and was taken by car to Odessa, after being unable to go to Mikolaiv because they bombed the bridge that connects it with the city. “It was not a comfortable trip at all,” emphasizes Darya, who says that she feels “better and calmer” in Odessa, despite being a threatened city. What she is clear about is that, when her son can be discharged, will come home.

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Tense calm in Odessa

The director of the hospital points out that so far they are “lucky” because not directly affected by the conflict and have received no children injured by the attacks. They have prepared several Emergency plans and they no longer take in just children with a mild situation, although they continue to make inquiries: “In general, we have centralized everything and we have close cooperation with pharmacies and we have the help from european countries, who reacted quickly. Everyone who could help has done so,” she says.

Among the emergency plans, it was decided in the first days of the war, which began on February 24, that “all the Kids with cancer who were undergoing chemotherapy treatment were evacuated to Moldova“, he points.

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Nowadays, Odessa live one tense calm after the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyindicated two weeks ago that the port city, the so-called pearl of the Black Sea, was going to be attacked by the Russianswhich have frigates stationed near the port.

Faced with this situation, many women and children have decided flee the countryalready exceeding 3 million refugees, according to UN data, which is considered the exile which is advancing fastest since the end of the Second World War, in 1945. However, the hospital staff -which are practically all womenit doesn’t go away: “All the toilets have stayed in our unit. We are lucky because no one has left,” says Sivolav. “We have no alternative. They need specific treatments and if there are no doctors or nurses who can do it, who is going to take care of them?”

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