As the war in Ukraine escalates, Rush University Medical Center employees who emigrated from that part of the world or have family who remain there are sharing their stories. The common theme in their reflections is empathy, unity and respect for humanity. Read what they had to say:
“I grew up in Kyiv. We survived Chernobyl and then emigrated 30 years ago. It's horrible to see a park or a street I used to walk down suddenly destroyed by a bomb. It's not just about Ukraine anymore; it is about all of us. Friends of my husband who live in Russia are embarrassed by this horrific war and are crying over the inability to stop the aggression. They are victims too. I'm getting so many calls and emails from my current and former Rush colleagues asking how I'm doing, lending support. Rush is about relationships — that's why it's my second family — especially now."
Susanna Chubinskaya, PhD, MS
Vice Provost, Faculty Affairs, Rush University
“My father lives in Kharkiv on the eastern border of Ukraine. Many years ago, he had a car accident and was paralyzed from the chest down. Right now, he and his caregiver are stuck on the third floor of his apartment building with pillows and mattresses up against the windows because there has been bombing close by. They don't want to text, share videos or pictures because they feel like that will disclose their location. He will need food and medical supplies soon. I wanted to send him money, but the banks are closed. No one wants to deliver food to him because everyone is scared to be on the streets. I'm the kind of person who has a plan A, plan B and plan C for every situation. But this one, I can't. It eats at me from the inside out."
Patient Care Technician, Bone Marrow Transplant/Hematology-Oncology
“I was born in Lviv, which was then part of the Soviet Union. I have family back in Ukraine. In fact, one of my cousins just enlisted. No matter your roots, people around the world are in support of the Ukrainian people. Rush is donating tourniquets, gauze and other equipment needed for victims of war. The outreach is incredible because people know, even if you have no connection to Ukraine, it affects all of us."
Yanina Purim-Shem-Tov, MD, MS, FACEP
Vice Chairperson, Faculty Development and Research
Department of Emergency Medicine
“The events in Ukraine have a particular resonance for me because so many of my family's stories took place there. My father was born in Lviv and came to the States in 1948. This is hard for him to watch. But I also keep in mind that regardless of where it happens or whether the victims look like me, a violation of human rights is a violation of human rights, and we have an obligation to pay attention and demand action.
I've been so touched by all of my Rush colleagues who've checked in to ask how I'm doing. Chicago is home to one of the country's largest Ukrainian populations, so the odds are that if you're a Rush employee, you know someone of Ukrainian heritage."
Executive Director, Corporate and Foundation Relations, Office of Philanthropy
“It has been a devastating week. Aside from feeling furious and disappointed about the current situation, I feel scared. Being an immigrant myself and experiencing the 1991 civil war in Yugoslavia, the events in Ukraine have triggered an anger I had suppressed for decades. I was 3 years old when we had to flee our country. Now, watching the news and seeing the parents and children fleeing — it's heartbreaking. I remember running with my parents and sisters, being on trains, being held captive, being separated from my father and not knowing his whereabouts for six months. I have been where they are. I know the pain they feel, the fear in their eyes, the innocent families and children being robbed from their lives and childhood. I deeply hurt for them."
Melita Isic, MBA, MHA
Director, University Affairs, Rush University
“I was born in what is now known as Belarus. Then, the region was one nation. We emigrated when I was 3 years old, so I don't remember much, but my mother does. She would ask, 'Why do we need war?' We will never know the intentions behind government actions, but war impacts everyone and yields nothing but death. The people in these countries are neighbors; they just want to live."
Dina Rubakha, MEd
Academic Program Manager, Office of Faculty Affairs and Global Health, Rush University
“As Russian troops were gathering at the border last week, I was in disbelief. Now we're all watching in horror as lives are being lost. It's always been on my bucket list to go see my grandma and grandpa's house in Kyiv. I wonder if it's still there.
Rush is so special because of what we do to help the underdog — in our community and in Chicago. We will figure out how to help in this situation. I have no doubt Rush will find a way and it will be fantastic."
Supervisor, Food and Nutrition Services