Kennewick pharmacist answers the call to serve at a field hospital in Ukraine

KENNEWICK, Wash. — Since Russia invaded Ukraine, people worldwide have stepped up to help Ukrainians in any way they can. One woman who has been a resident of Kennewick since 1994 answered the call.

Pam Renard is a pharmacist with 32 years of experience and is currently working in a Samaritan’s Purse Emergency Field Hospital at an undisclosed location in Ukraine.

Kennewick pharmacist answers the call to serve at a field hospital in UkraineShe is halfway through her four-week deployment, and through an exclusive interview, she gave KAPP-KVEW’s Amanda Mason a behind-the-scenes look at the hospital and the pharmacy where she is on call 24/7.

Renard said this is her first deployment with Samaritan’s Purse, but she has served in Guatemala several times and Africa in clinics through Providence and Kadlec.

“I’ve never worked in an area that has been at war before I came to Ukraine,” Renard said.

Before leaving for Ukraine, Renard left Kennewick to train with Samaritan’s Purse at their headquarters in Boone, North Carolina.

“This is all new to me, and I think we are very fortunate to live in the U.S., where it’s safe, and we don’t have to worry about air-raid sirens and we don’t have to worry about our children. We get up, we go to work every day, and these folks right now are not feeling that. There is a lot of mental health here; there’s a lot of counseling. These people have been traumatized. They are leaving with just a suitcase, and some of them don’t even come with a suitcase. They just get out, and they don’t have anything when they come,” Renard said.

The Emergency Field Hospital performs not only operations but elective surgeries as well. Renard said the medical staff sees many dehydrated and sick patients who have fled their homes and were stuck on a train or bus for hours. Renard said the hospital staff even treated a man who fell off a bunk on a train and broke several ribs.

ENVIRONMENT

Kennewick pharmacist answers the call to serve at a field hospital in UkraineRenard said their setup is like a ‘tent city.’ There is a tent for everything from sleeping, eating, and operations, to name a few.

“That’s hard for me because it’s like college. There are two shifts for nursing, so they do a night shift and a day shift, so tents are pretty much dark all the time because people are in there sleeping. So you only have a couple of hours of light in the morning and in the evening, so you have to be totally organized with all your stuff to get in and out,” Renard said.

Now, the Kennewick resident sleeps in the pharmacy as she works there 24/7 and is the only pharmacist onsite.

“If they need anything, they wake me up,” she said.

Pharmacist answers the call to serve at a field hospital in UkraineRenard said right next to her pharmacy tent, there is an ER (emergency room), ICU (intensive care unit), and step-down unit on the right. Then on the left, there is a basic hospital ward.

“They have great security for us, and it is super organized. Samaritan’s Purse is fabulous,” Renard said.

“Samaritan’s Purse has given a lot of people jobs in Ukraine because they don’t job right now. So I always have someone who can write the medication instructions in Ukrainian,” Renard continued.

“A lot of our workers here are from the East, and some of the stories are terrible. One gentleman was underground for 21 days in Kiev when Russia invaded. Almost everybody we see here has high blood pressure.”

A DAY IN THE LIFE

As an early riser, Renard said she gets up around 6 a.m. before the nurses have their shift change. She then has breakfast which is authentic Ukrainian food, and then she is involved in a devotional. Following announcements, the teams for the bus stations leave, and she goes back to work in her tent.

The Kennewick woman also said a new mobile unit departs and travels into the smaller towns because locals do not feel comfortable traveling to the big cities for medical treatments.

Kennewick pharmacist answers the call to serve at a field hospital in UkraineIn the afternoon, Renard works in the warehouse organizing the medical shipments. Every five days, Samaritan’s Purse flights deliver medical supplies to hospitals in Ukraine, that Renard has organized.

“Their supply chain has been really cut off. So, they have staff to staff their hospitals, but they don’t have supplies and medicines. So Samaritan’s Purse is donating a ton of stuff,” Renard said.

In the morning and post-op, Renard helps the surgeons and nurses with medications depending on the day.

“My main role is to keep track of the medications, and then I report back to Boone, North Carolina, every night. I tell them what we’ve used so that when we start running low, they can send more medications on the airplane for us to use,” Renard said.

Dinner is at 6:00 p.m. and the nurses are around the pharmacy until 8 p.m.— though sometimes, they must stay throughout the night.

“I do have a pharmacy technician on the weekends. He gets paid for working here,” Renard said.

LIFE EXPERIENCE

Pharmacist answers call in Ukraine“I’ve [learned] that I can do anything I set my mind to. My husband says, let’s go camping, and I say, ‘Which Hilton are we staying in?’ This is definitely not the Hilton, but I can do anything as long as I know what I am getting into for certain amounts of time. You just depend on God and your teammates, and it all comes together,” Renard said.

“I’m just thankful I am at this point in my life. I’m happy my husband let me come too. So thankful for him and all his support. I’ve always had a heart for service, and when people are in need, I feel like God’s given me a gift and a knowledge of pharmacy. This group is particularly unique because they have a hard time getting pharmacists because most pharmacists are working full time. I used to work at Kadlec; it would be hard for me to go into Kadlec and say I would like to be off for four weeks.” – Pan Renard

GIVING BACK

Renard encourages everyone, whether it be her fellow Kennewick residents or someone across the globe, to donate. She also urges everyone to pray for the people in Ukraine. “I would say prayer honestly just for these people every day for their mental health as well as their physical health. There are so many needs here,” Renard said.

If you are interested in giving back and helping those struggling in Ukraine, learn more at www.SamaritansPurse.org.