On Life and Death

I wrote a big piece about the events in LPR, then erased it.
Too many emotions–I was remembering ’14, ’15.
It’s better I tell you about the Novosvetlovka hospice again.
This village was one of the most damaged during this war.
During the summer of ’14 it was nearly wiped off the surface of the earth. There was hard fighting. On every street there were many burned out tanks and APCs. Dozens of ruins where houses used to be. So many stories about marauders, about the locals whom the Aidar Battalion herded into the church. Many of the surviving houses were utterly looted.
The church, incidentally, has been restored. Many of the damaged homes were rebuilt too. Ukraine played no part in it at all, even though it still views this territory as its own but at the same time is refusing to pay even the pensions to people who for all these years worked and paid taxes into its budget.
The hospital’s maternity ward that was hit by many shells and in whose cellars many of the villagers were surviving, a hospice was opened in ’16. I write about it from time to time.

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Hospice on the line of fire

It was quiet in Kalinovo. Even though today is the lottery.
The village is long–I’ve never seen anything like it–27 kilometers. From Pervomaysk to Bryanka. More than half-marathon. Except it’s impossible even hypothetically because shelling is a daily occurrence. It’s been like this for three years. We forgot, we can’t believe, it seems vague to us, we push it out of our thoughts. Even among LPR inhabitants there are those who don’t know what happens on the line of contact. The media don’t draw attention to it, and people simply stopped paying attention.
Kalinovo has its own hospice. That’s where we went.

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Novosvetlovka Hospice

Three years ago, when I first visited this town, it had no hospice. Only a hospital that suffered from bombardments. A big, good hospital. It stayed open during the whole “war”. War? Yes, Novosvetlovka was bombed to bits during the summer of 2014. Those who were here know what happened. Even I saw, during the winter of 2014/15 a burned out APC or a tank on every street. Bunkers and destroyed homes everywhere. These were the first of the most awful sights I saw during the war on the Donbass.
Novosvetlovka.
With time, the damaged maternity ward was turned into a hospice. A place where people depart. We came here already several times with aid. They have noone else to turn to. We are de-facto the only people to help them. They currently have 28 patients. They get medications, but the rest…
Nothing has changed since our last visit. The biggest problem is with adult disposable diapers. Relatives bring them in some cases, but some patients have no relatives at all. Staff deals with the situation as best it can. But it is a problem. A big problem. Because the less often you change the diapers, the more skin problems. Bed sores, lesions…And corresponding odors…

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Where People Depart

Marina Anatolyevna seems like a young girl. We met her during the summer. At the time she was already in charge of the Novosvetlovka hospital hospice for six months. Bangs, thin arms, and eyes full of wonder.
In 2014, Novosvetlovka was just about wiped off the face of the Earth. But it wasn’t. It withstood the assault. Although its hospital was badly damaged, just like most of the homes, which became ruins. Some of the wards were closed altogether, including the maternity one. Many sat through the bombings in the hospital’s basement.
After a while, the hospital was renovated and new wards were op;ened.
Unfortunately, maternity was not one fo them.
Now it houses a hospice. It’s small–right now there are 25 people there. They put in charge a young doctor, Marina Anatolyevna Astakhova.
When I visited it during the summer, instead of this blue plate there was simply a piece of paper with typed letters.

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New Year at a Hospice

This is the last holiday greetings post from our team.
This is the Lugansk Hospice associated with the regional hospital’s cancer ward.
For most of the people on these photos, it’s their last New Year celebration.
We decided to bring holiday greetings to these people, that was the right thing to do.
I won’t speculate concerning your emotions on that day. I also won’t say anything. Because what’s there to say?


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Lugansk Hospice

I have nothing to say about the US elections. But I do know that Zaitsevo and other border towns on the Donbass were being ground to powder at that time. People died, houses burned. In the literal, not figurative sense…
I also know about ordinary people’s lives in this unusual region where a war is raging.
Everyone’s gotten used to it. The inhabitants are used to it, we’re used to it, I’m used to it. But everyday activities, for example, the operation of hospitals and hospices, suffer from problems whose existence we don’t even suspect.
This is the Lugansk hospice attached to the cancer ward. That’s where our Ira is.
These institutions have the lowest priority for aid. Medicaments are most important. The rest is an afterthought. But how is one supposed to wash, disinfect, do laundry? Nobody’s thinking about that. If they are, they lack the means. And yet this hospice where the ill come to die. Many of them can’t even take care of their basic needs anymore.
The doctors and nurses need paper and pens to write on and with, but those are shortage items too. Lightbulbs do burn out, and switches break, like everywhere else.
The workers here have to bring their own supplies from home. Just think about it–the workers spend their miserly wages so that there is light and paper ant work…And so that the ill are able to read books in the evenings…

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Instead of a maternity ward, a hospice

There was a large maternity ward in the Novosvetlovka hospital. It was destroyed during the war in the summer of 2014. Other wards, including therapy and infection treatment, also suffered. Novosvetlovka was wiped off the face of the Earth. Whole streets turned into ruins. When I visited there the first time, every street had several burned out tanks and APCs.
The hospital has been reconstructed, but instead of the maternity ward, there is a hospice.


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To treat everyone

People often write me about the Donbass: “They have hospitals there? Alrighty, then!”, implying that it’s the Chernobyl Zone where there is nobody left except for the truly stubborn, plus the elderly and the disabled. Though the latter ones often get forgotten, too. In reality, both Lugansk and Donetsk have active hospitals, clinics, labs, and other medical facilities. The hospitals are overflowing with patients–there are more people suffering from high blood pressure, strokes, heart attacks. Maternity wards are as full as they were before the war.
There is also a cancer ward in the Lugansk Republican Hospital, the only one which provides radiation treatment in the region. People come here even from the Ukrainian side of the border.

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