Portland doctor spends 10 days in Poland delivering supplies to Ukraine refugees

Published: Mar. 24, 2022 at 6:55 PM PDT
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PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV) - Doctor Joesph Howton is an emergency physician at Providence Portland Medical Center.

He recently spent 10 days in Poland delivering supplies and giving care to Ukraine refugees.

“I was feeling tremendous stress and angst watching the suffering of Ukrainians. At times it was making it hard to sleep and I was wondering how I can help. It occurred to me that I have a skill set that may be useful as an emergency physician. There’s got to be somewhere I can help so I booked a ticket,” Howton says.

He was told they didn’t need doctors; what they needed were supplies.

“The week before I went, I spent a couple thousand dollars on Amazon ordering combat tourniquets, along with hemorrhage control dressing and splints. I put it together in a giant suitcase full of stuff. The most common injury I’ve seen was psychological trauma. Some people had headaches, chest pain from the mass of stress.”

Dr. Howton worked with Kuba Lang, the founder of From the Border to the Flat, a non-profit that helps arrange transportation and accommodation for refugees crossing the border. With help from some friends, he helped transport women and children.

“On the way we packed the cars with basic supplies such as food, diapers, water. Anything you can imagine for kids with the idea that on our way back we would take as many people as we can, essentially only children and mothers,” says Kuba Lang.

After three weeks, they’ve relocated 77,000 people that number has since grown, but Lang lost count because it was taking time that they would rather spend on things that are much more impactful.

Lang’s longest drive was 14 hours, stopping along the way to pick up families and 100 jars of soup. But it’s the sound of a baby that he will never forget.

Something that is always most difficult is selecting the youngest kids and the mothers from the lane. There are two videos one is from the day trip and the other is from the night I can guarantee you they will not forget the crying of the baby,” says Lang.

Kuba plans to use donations to buy five buses for the Polish side, five buses for the Ukraine side, so they can take 200 people. They’d also like to donate five ambulances to hospitals they’ve been working with.