At the request of Ukraine 2 4 2, American reporter and photographer Patrick Patterson visited the First Volunteer Surgical Hospital in the Ukrainian city of Ivano Frankivsk to report back. The beautiful medieval city of Ivano Frankivsk located at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains in western Ukraine, provides a haven for wounded soldiers flown in directly from the pure Hell of the front, according to Patterson. As Patterson points out, most soldiers in the Ukrainian war were lay people prior, unprepared for the realities of war. Most injuries at the hospital involve crushed and lost limbs requiring surgery and trauma requiring years of psychological therapy.
According to Patterson, who has worked in medical trauma centers in the US, Ukraine’s First Volunteer Surgical Hospital is a revolutionary model to be emulated by hospitals worldwide. He describes the people and principles that make up Ukraine’s First Volunteer Surgical Hospitals groundbreaking healing program for the body, mind, and soul through community-building, comradery between doctors and patients, cultural and social activities, and time spent in the area’s beautiful natural environment.
In particular, he describes an animal therapy program offered by the hospital, where wounded soldiers connect with horses and other barnyard animals that were rescued from the front. Conceived of and built by young German entrepreneur Matthias Hopfner, the rescue farm is a haven for horses and other animals that were injured, abandoned, and starved as a consequence of the Russian invasion. Equine therapy with the horses is one of the hospital’s most popular programs.