All posts by Steven Bowers

CMCF Sponsors Ukrainian Attendance at 12th Annual UENPS Conference

 

Ten Ukrainian neonatologists from the cities of Lviv and Ternopil traveled to Krakow, Poland to take part in the 12th International Conference of the Union of Neonatal and Perinatal Societies (UENPS).

Organized by (and held at the auditorium of the university hospital home of) longtime CMCF partner, former CMCF Fellow and current Polish Neonatal Society President, Prof. Ryszard Lauterbach, this convening brought together many of Europe’s most highly regarded neonatologists to share insights on practical challenges of everyday neonatal care giving.

Dr. Zoryana Ivanyuk, Medical Director of Saint Nicholas Hospital in Lviv, and CMCF’s Country Managing Director for Ukraine took time away from her extremely busy schedule to attend the event along with 5 other physicians from SNH’s neonatology department.

Representing Ternopil at the event were Prof. Halyna Pavlishin, Chair of the 2nd Department of Pediatrics at Ivan Horbachevsky Ternopil National Medical University and three of her neonatology department staff.

 

CMCF Strengthens Its Support for Broader Breastfeeding Adoption

 

On September 30, 2022, the Polish Lactation Consultants and Advisors held its First Summit of the Coalition for Breastfeeding at the headquarters of the Warsaw Regional Chamber of Nurses and Midwives (WOIPIP) in Warsaw, Poland.

CMCF Vice President, Jolanta Martinoff, attended the event at the invitation of Prof. Maria Wilińska, Head of the Department of Neonatology at the Independent Public Clinical Hospital-CMKP, Warsaw, and one of Poland’s strongest advocates for increasing parental and public awareness of the many benefits of breastfeeding. 

Physicians from across the globe presented findings of their research on breastfeeding’s positive impact on everything from healthy child development to family budgets, to the healthcare system as a whole, to the global economy and even to the health of the planet.

Mrs. Martinoff addressed meeting attendees about the foundation’s history and aims and invited them to get in touch regarding potential financial support of initiatives they were spearheading. 

The first physician-advocate to take Mrs. Martinoff up on her offer was Prof. Barbara Królak-Olejnik, Chief of the Department of Neonatology at Wroclaw Medical University, who invited Mrs. Martinoff to tour her department the following week.

On that visit Mrs. Martinoff had the privilege of meeting Prof. Królak-Olejnik’s treatment team and getting a firsthand look at how it handled milk banking and other breastfeeding-specific patient support strategies and techniques.

Happy 45th Anniversary, Institute of Mother and Child!

 

On October 15th, 2022, medical luminaries from across Poland convened at Instytut “Pominik-Centrum Zdrowia Dziecka in Warsaw to celebrate 45 years of it providing country-leading pediatric care and cutting edge medical research that has played a prominent role in the transformation of pediatric and neonatal care worldwide. 

On hand for this nationally televised event was CMCF’s Vice President, Jolanta Martinoff, who was there to receive a Meritus Pro Nati award for her and her husband’s (CMCF President, Bjoern Martinoff) tireless dedication to the two institutions’ shared aims.

Mrs. Martinoff addressed attendees about the history and close collaboration between CMCF and CZD, one that dates back almost as far as the hospital itself. In her remarks, she reminded attendees that it was one of the Institute of Mother and Child’s early pediatric surgeons, Dr. (and later Prof.) Zygmunt Kalicinski, who conceived of, and did the crucial initial outreach that laid the groundwork for, the international medico-scientific exchange that would become the Children’s Medical Care Foundation.

In the intervening four decades, CMCF has sponsored supplemental specialized medical training for no less than 19 current and former Institute of Mother and Child physicians at some of the world’s finest medical centers, including UCLA School of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Columbia University Medical Center, the University of Nebraska Medical Center and Boston Children’s Hospital. 

Along with their daily delivery of exemplary pediatric care, many of these outstanding physicians have hosted successive generations of CMCF Fellows in their medical departments. We are grateful to CZD-for the standard of excellence in pediatric care it has and continues to set-and for the vital training partnership we continue to rely on to this day.

CMCF Announces Historic Training Partnership

 

Notification of the selection of the offer

The President and Vice President of the Children’s Medical Care Foundation met recently with the Marek Migdal, MD, PhD, Director of the Children’s Memorial Health Institute, one of Europe’s largest pediatric hospitals, to discuss a new form of training collaboration which would see CMCF coordinating group supplemental specialized medical trainings at the facility’s vast medical campus in Warsaw, Poland.

The institute, also known as Instytut Pomnik Centrum Zdrowia Dziecka, or IPCZD, serves as both a scientific institute and a highly specialized children’s hospital treating children from throughout the country, as well as a large number of pediatric oncology patients currently being transferred there from Ukraine.

Among the many specialties for which IPCZD is renowned is organ transplantation. Its transplantation center is one of the largest in the world and has conducted many pioneering surgeries dating back to 1990 when it conducted the first liver transplant in Poland. Since then its physicians have also performed Poland’s first combined kidney and liver transplant, its first simultaneous transplant of the liver, small intestine, duodenum and pancreas and its first intestine transplant.

The training relationship between these two entities dates back to the foundation’s earliest days, when CMCF arranged for a fellowship at the UCLA School of Medicine for one of IPCZD’s pediatric surgeons and the co-founder of the foundation, itself, Prof. Zygmunt Kalicinski. Since that time, seventeen other IPCZD physicians have benefited from similar such observership trainings at leading American medical institutions, including Harvard Medical School, Columbia University Medical Center, the University of Nebraska Medical Center, and Boston Children’s Hospital. 

In fact, one of those pioneering fellowship recipients, the son of Zygmunt, Prof. Piotr Kalicinski, went on to establish and now head IPCZD’s transplantation center. Prof. Kalicinski has distinguished himself as one of the world’s leading pediatric transplant surgeons.

Particularly important to the training partnership is IPCZD’s state-of-the-art surgery simulation center where trainees can practice on special medical mannequins.  

Whereas the model in the foundation’s early years was to arrange for individual physicians to travel to often quite distant medical centers for stays of six weeks and longer, this new training partnership will involve entire medical teams for briefer periods of time. 

Along with being much more cost effective, this approach holds the potential to enable much more rapid improvements to health care standards and hospital treatment capacity, as every member of a visiting department’s treatment team will be able to observe how the host medical department, selected for its efficiency, manages patient flow and conducts caregiving operations.

Fundraiser for Ukrainian Children and Families Held in Southern California

 

 

 

 

Event organizer, Eddy Perez displays his cell phone as CMCF Country Managing Director for Ukraine, Doctor Zoryana Ivanyuk, speaks to attendees from Lviv by Zoom during a rally to support Ukrainian refugee families held at Bridgeport Community Park in in Santa Clarita on Saturday. Photo by Dan Watson of The Signal.

Supporters of Ukraine came together in Southern California this past Saturday for a humanitarian charity rally to raise funds to aid children and families affected by the war raging in that country. The event featured musical performances in a variety of styles sung in both Ukrainian and English, impassioned appeals to support the Children’s Medical Care Foundation’s efforts to assist children and families in Ukraine and even a Zoom call from Ukraine.
Among those invited to speak were Santa Clarita City Councilman Bill Miranda and State Assemblywoman Suzette Valladares. The event’s organizer, who also served as Master of Ceremonies, was Eddie Perez, a Santa Clarita resident whose wife is Ukrainian.Mr. Perez’ voice cracked as he shared with the crowd a telephone conversation he had days before with his niece in Ukraine in which she asked her uncle-when are you going to come get me? This broke Mr. Perez’ heart. He didn’t know what to say. Nor, as he knew had to be true for so many others, did he know quite what he could do to be of help in this most trying and traumatizing time. He only knew he had to do something, and within days he pulled together an ambitious event which provided a way for those who shared his sorrow to turn that feeling into real help.We cannot thank Mr. Perez enough for his initiative-it was he who approached our foundation with the idea of organizing an event to raise funds on our behalf-and for the enormous amount of effort it undoubtedly required of him to realize it. To date the event has generated over $16,700.00.

Human Milk Banking in Poland

On October 14, 2021, CMCF Vice President, Jolanta Martinoff was invited to take part in the 6th International Congress of the European Milk Bank Association.

CMCF wishes to express its sincere gratitude to Aleksandra Wesolowska, President of the Milk Bank Foundation of Poland and Associate Professor at the Laboratory of Human Milk and Lactation Research on Regional Milk Bank in Warsaw, Medical University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland for the invitation to participate and for her leadership in this area.

Below is an in depth interview of Assoc. Prof. Wesolowska which appeared in Miris Interviews.

CMCF Vice President Jolanta Martinoff Renews Memorandum of Understanding

On October 21, 2021, in Kiev, Ukraine, Jolanta Martinoff, CMCF Vice President, signed an updated Memorandum of Understanding with Viktor Liashko, Ukrainian Minister of Health, renewing both parties’ commitment to improving the quality of newborn care.

This agreement builds on the longstanding partnership of the two parties and further clarifies the roles of each moving forward.

In particular, the memorandum provides for:

  • development of a family-centered approach of neonatal care in Ukraine
  • learning the world experience of providing assistance to prematurely born children and children with acquired or congenital surgical and somatic pathology
  • improving the legal field in the field of neonatology and child surgery
  • neonatological service development
  • implementation of international forms of analytical reporting and statistics
  • holding compatible meetings on perinatal aid policy
  • involvement of leading industry specialists, in holding conferences, seminars and trainings for doctors
  • organization of team training staff and ensuring effective communication

Below are images of the historic agreement itself, along with photos of its signatories; CMCF Vice President Jolanta Martinoff, and Viktor Liashko, Ukrainian Minister of Health as well as Rostyslav Tistyk, deputy of the Verkhovna Rada.

Donated Medical Equipment Cleared for Official Use in Ukraine

Children’s Medical Care Foundation is proud to announce that at long last, 54 pieces of advanced medical equipment it was able to secure the donation of from Polish pediatric hospitals in 2018, have finally been cleared for official use at pediatric medical centers throughout Ukraine.

Obtaining licensing to enable official use of this equipment, which included orthopedic beds, anesthesia machines, bactericidal and manipulation lamps, a trolley, a laboratory dryer, a respirator, an electromyography device, closed incubators, and resuscitation tables for newborns-the crucial final step in this multi-stage humanitarian aid shipment process-proved more challenging than initially envisioned, and would likely not have been possible without the help of a number of key allies-a few of whom we didn’t know we had-throughout government and the medical establishment.

Among those who deserve special thanks are Rostyslav Tistyk, deputy of the Verkhovna Rada, Orest Chemerys, Director of the Health Department of the Lviv Regional State Administration as well as the Health Department of the Lviv City Council.

And as with all foundation initiatives and efforts in Ukraine, we are extremely grateful for the ongoing support of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine.

We are pleased to also report that as word of the successful donation continues to spread throughout the pediatric medical community in Poland, several medical institutions have begun to approach our foundation to inquire about future participation, which warms our hearts and reaffirms our commitment. We look forward to facilitating future such donations.

Please direct all shipment-related inquiries to Jolanta Martinoff, foundation Vice President, at jolanta@cmcf.org.

CMCF Facilitates Donation & Transfer of Medical Equipment From Polish Hospitals to Ukrainian Pediatric Medical Centers

By stepping outside of its fellowship-granting comfort zone, CMCF was able to reach an exciting new milestone in its evolving history of efforts to elevate neonatal and pediatric care standards this week with the successful transfer $3,500,000.00 USD of unused medical equipment from children’s hospitals throughout Poland to their counterparts throughout Ukraine.

 The gifting of these otherwise idle ventilators, infusion pumps, neonatal respirators, incubators, monitors, orthopedic baby beds, anesthesia devices, bacteriological lamps, laboratory equipment, a resuscitation station and a transdermal bilirubin measurement device was the brainchild of CMCF Vice President-and former nurse-Jolanta Martinoff, and would not have been possible without the expertise and accumulated goodwill of Prof.-and longtime CMCF Board Member-Maria Katarzyna Borszewska-Kornacka and the persistence of CMCF’s Country Managing Director for Ukraine, Dr. Zoryana Ivanyuk.

 More about the particulars of which Polish hospitals participated and what items were donated can be found in these two recent articles. The broad outlines of this groundbreaking act of international cooperation are these:

In accordance with a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Children’s Medical Care Foundation and the Ministry of Health of Ukraine in 2017, site visits of 10 neonatal and pediatric medical centers throughout Ukraine were conducted by representatives of CMCF to assess their adequacy to serve as hosts for a series of pilot neonatal medical trainings the foundation had been conceptualizing.

During these visits, conducted by Prof. Borszewska-Kornacka, and Jolanta Martinoff, it was discovered that a number of these hospitals were in shockingly short supply of even the most basic medical equipment. 

An idea occurred to Mrs. Martinoff-what if surplus medical equipment from partner institutions in Poland, much of it collecting dust in hospital basements, could be transferred to these institutions which were in such need of it.

Mrs. Martinoff convinced Prof. Borszewska-Kornacka to approach the director of the hospital whose neonatal intensive care unit she once headed to ask if he might consider such an equipment transfer, which, to her delight, he was willing to assent to. But that was just the beginning.

CMCF initiated contact with the Ministries of Health of Poland and Ukraine to obtain formal governmental permission for donation, and acceptance of the equipment. This involved multiple politically sensitive communiques back and forth-and re-starts through a transition of Ministry heads.

CMCF hired a private shipping company, and then another as the first fell through, and finally a third who did not shy away from the task. 

In addition to the obvious benefits to patient care Ukrainian hospitals having such modern equipment affords, it also expands the geographic reach of group trainings-an increasing organizational emphasis favored for its potential to more quickly disseminate modern medical knowledge-and at a fraction of the cost-of individual observerships.

 If you are aware-or have medical colleagues in Poland who you think might be-of surpluses of functioning medical equipment not currently in use by the hospitals at which you or they practice, you are strongly encouraged to contact CMCF president, Bjoern Martinoff, at bjoern@cmcf.org.

CMCF Mourns Passing of a Champion of Compassion

In Memoriam

Dr. Marian Zakharus

1980-2020

On March 9th, 2020, the Children’s Medical Care Foundation family lost a talented, ambitious exemplar of what it means to selflessly devote oneself to the care of children. Dr. Marian Zakharus, a pediatric surgeon at Danylo Halytsky Lviv National Medical University, a rising star in the field of pediatric surgery in Ukraine and an even more extraordinary humanitarian, passed away suddenly at the age of 40.

The enormity of the loss of Dr. Zakharus’ passing, both to the immediate care of children in the Lviv region of Ukraine, as well as to the broader effort to elevate standards of pediatric care throughout the country, is difficult to overstate. Though barely into his fortieth year at the time of his death, he was already a highly respected surgeon, known for his thoroughness, stamina, discipline, work ethic and extraordinary capacity for gentleness and compassion with patients and emotional supportiveness of colleagues.

Dr. Zakharus first became affiliated with the Children’s Medical Care Foundation when he applied for and was granted an observership at the Department of Pediatric Surgery at the Upper Silesian Child Health Center, Katowice, Poland, under the guidance of Prof. Janusz Bohosiewicz. He would later acquire further CMCF-sponsored training at the Department of Pediatric Surgery and Urology at the University of Medicine, Wroclaw, Poland, under the guidance of Prof. Dariusz Patkowski.

Dr. Zakharus was also selected to participate in a two-day training at the Aesculap Academy in Nowy Tomysl, Poland, on minimally invasive surgical techniques with two of Europe’s leading practitioners and former CMCF Fellows, Professors Piotr Czauderna and Dariusz Patkowski, head of Pediatric Surgery and Urology Department Wroclaw University of Medicine and head of the Department of Surgery and Urology for Children and Adolescents of the Medical University of Gdańsk, respectively.

Dr. Zakharus was beginning to distinguish himself as one of the leading practitioners in Ukraine of minimally invasive surgical techniques such as laparoscopy for the treatment of oncological diseases, and for the application of those techniques for the treatment of patients with congenital and acute abdominal pathologies.

Marian took great pride in his affiliation with CMCF, and it is difficult to imagine a better ambassador for the foundation’s mission of generously sharing the latest of what is known in pursuit of ever better pediatric care standards. When members of CMCF’s US-based Board of Directors came to Ukraine, it was Dr. Zakharus who would greet them at the airport and assist them during their stays by personally driving them to important meetings. Stories abound of this kind of selfless volunteerism.

As impressive as his technical mastery in the operating theater was the personal effect he had on his patients. One colleague recalled how he would often have gifts or a joke for his young patients and that upon the recovery of one child from a particularly dire medical condition that Dr. Zakharus had treated him for, the parents asked Dr. Zakharus if he would be the child’s Godfather. Dr. Zakharus made it a tradition to visit the family in their distant village on the child’s birthday every year since. Another colleague, a neonatologist who had known and worked with him since medical school, said that he was adored by staff and patients alike and described him as “a great friend, the perfect surgeon, an amazing man, a loving son, just an awesome person”.

Though he was tragically taken too early, his legacy will live on and the standards he helped set will hopefully inspire those who come after. May he rest in peace.