Loyola Medical Center donates ambulance to people of Ukraine

By Joyce Duriga | Editor
Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Loyola Medical Center donates ambulance to people of Ukraine

On June 5, 2023, members of the Loyola Medicine Community in Maywood gathered for a press conference to bless an ambulance donated to help save lives in Ukrainian communities under attack by Russian forces. The ambulance was covered with signatures and messages of support from Loyola Medicine colleagues to lift the spirits of the people of Ukraine. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Shawn Vincent, president and CEO of Loyola Medicine, visits with Chris Manson, who founded US Ambulances for Ukraine, before the event. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Robert Gilligan, executive director of the Catholic Conference of Illinois, writes a message on the ambulance before the service. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Shawn Vincent, president and CEO of Loyola Medicine, introduces dignitaries at the event, which was held outside of Loyola University’s Stritch School of Medicine. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Serhiy Koledov, Consul General of Ukraine in Chicago, address the gathering. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Staff from Loyola pray during the blessing. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Chris Manson, who founded US Ambulances for Ukraine with his young daughter, shares his experiences of delivering the ambulances to the war-torn country. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Stephanie Welsh, spiritual care manager at Trinity Health-Loyola University Medical Center, gives a blessing over the ambulance. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
A Loyola staff member writes a message on the ambulance following the service. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)

On the clear day of June 5, an ambulance parked outside of Stritch School of Medicine gleamed as officials and staff from Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood prepared to bless it before it its journey to Ukraine.

Medical supplies and equipment including stretchers filled the ambulance, and hundreds of handwritten messages of prayer and support from Loyola staff members covered it.

“Bless the lives saved by this ambulance and the health care workers,” read one message. “We stand with you! You are always in our hearts and prayers! Megan, RN, Chicago, IL,” read another.

“I speak for all of our colleagues when I say that we are honored to have the opportunity to donate this ambulance to help save lives in Ukraine,” said Shawn Vincent, president and CEO of Loyola Medicine, in remarks before the blessing.

It was the 40th ambulance shipped to Ukraine by U.S. Ambulances for Ukraine since March 2022. The vehicle was to be sent to the East Coast and put on a ship bound for Poland with other donated ambulances, then driven into Ukraine.

“This will help us serve not only the frontline soldiers and others, but, quite frankly, the many civilians who have been caught in the middle of this unjust war,” Vincent said.

Chris Manson, vice president of government relations for Peoria-based OSF Healthcare System, cofounded U.S. Ambulances for Ukraine with his 14-year-old daughter in 2022.

Seeing all of the coverage of the war “got to her,” Manson said of his daughter.

“At one point she said to me, ‘Dad, is there anything we can do to help the people in Ukraine?’ It was that question that got me thinking, and that’s what really started this,” Manson said.

To date, the organization has delivered 38 ambulances and six firetrucks to Ukraine.

Manson has made five trips to Ukraine himself, and said he is inspired by the spirit of a people who just want to be free.

“And when they see vehicles like this pull in — last time we drove 16 vehicles in — traffic stops, people stop,” he said. “The people of Ukraine see these vehicles come in and it gives them hope. They know they are not alone. They know that the people of the United States stand with them.”

Often people will approach the ambulances and touch the signatures and messages with tears in their eyes, he said.

“Since the beginning of the Russian full-scale war against Ukraine, we see every day now the enemy is purposely destroying the Ukrainian medical infrastructure and killing our people,” said Serhiy Koledove, consul general of Ukraine. “Our doctors, despite everything, continue to save the lives of Ukrainians in extremely difficult conditions.”

Citing statistics from the World Bank, Koledove said more than 900 medical facilities have been destroyed so far.

“In 2023, Ukraine will need at least $640 million to restore access to medical care and to construct medical facilities,” he added. “I want to thank our American friends and partners such as U.S. Ambulances for Ukraine and, of course, Loyola Medicine for your strong support. The availability of ambulances is a priority to reduce mortalities and to ensure that medical professionals have the ability to reach people in need.”


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