Chernobyl Worker Healthcare

The city of Slavutych was constructed in 1986 to replace the former city of Pripyat, which had to be evacuated because of the radioactive contamination from the explosion of the Unit 4 reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1992, Slavutych and Chernobyl were separated by the border with Belarus.

A map of northern Ukraine. (A) The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. (B) The former city of Pripyat. (C) The city of Slavutych.

Today, over 20,000 residents live in Slavutych, including current and former workers at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and their families. The city features a central park and a memorial to the 1986 nuclear disaster and the first responders who lost their lives.

When we think about the most hazardous work sites in the world, the Chernobyl nuclear power plant tends to be considered one of the most dangerous. Everyday there are over 3,500 workers that take the Semikhody Train from the worker town of Slavutych to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

It goes without saying, workers who are forced to endure the harshest of conditions should also be provided a greater level of medical care throughout their careers and after they retire. Therefore, it would be understandable to feel that the workers of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant should receive a quality level of medical care as a compensation for the high-risk operations they have conducted at the Chernobyl site for over 30 years.

However, to quote the director of the hospital, Victor Shilenko, the current conditions at the hospital in Slavutych are “absurd“.

The entrance to the hospital in Slavutych which provides cares to the workers at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and their families.

The hospital currently receives less than 30% of the annual funding it needs to operate. The lack of resources and medical staff makes intensive care situations even more difficult to manage.

  • Every year the hospital responds to over 300,000 visits;
  • 2 out of every 3 patients are current or former workers at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant;
  • In the last year alone, the staff has had to close multiple facilities and gone down from 230 beds to 120 beds;
  • The hospital hasn’t received funds to pay salaries to the medical staff since July, 2016, and has already lost one-fifth of the workforce.

In November 2016, a delegation of medical doctors from the Slavutych Hospital traveled to the capital, Kiev, to meet with administrators from the Ministry of Healthcare.

The Slavutych doctors informed the government of the conditions in Slavutych and asked for additional emergency assistance in order to continue operations, but the central government informed them that the government did not have the funds to meet their needs, and even worse was considering shutting down the hospital altogether.

The Slavutych hospital provides all medical services for the workers at Chernobyl and the residents of the city, including redi-care, emergency care, trauma, obstetrics, pediatrics, rehabilitation, etc. If the hospital were closed for financial reasons, the workers at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and the residents of Slavutych would have to travel over 50 km to reach the nearest hospital in Chernigov, or over 180 km to the main hospital in Kiev.

The Obstetrics Facility at the Slavutych Hospital has been closed for over a year, because the hospital cannot afford the utilities required to keep it open. The entrance is obstructed by leaves and debris and the broken windows are too expensive to replace.

The hospital can’t raise enough funds to pay for its annual electricity and gas bills, and the hospital still has an outstanding balance from 2015. The lack of utilities has forced the hospital to close many necessary facilities on the campus and condense operations in the main building.

This is the delivery room where over 300 babies are born every year in Slavutych.

In September 2015, the hospital was forced to close the Obstetrics Facility and downsize it to one delivery room and a handful of recovery rooms, which are all on the same floor as surgery and the intensive care unit. There are no bathrooms in the recovery rooms, so in order to access the facilities mothers must walk out of the Obstetrics Department and to a bathroom down the hall. The expecting and new mothers must walk to the bathrooms, because there aren’t any wheelchairs available for them to use.

Becaue the hospital cannot afford to adequately heat the entire facility, the delivery room is heated by this space heater.

The hospital only has three ambulances, and those are only for transporting workers from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, there are no hospital-owned ambulances that can pick up the injured in the city.

The hospital only has one baby incubator, but it doesn’t work.

The hospital has a need for even the most basic of medical supplies, including disposable masks, gloves, suture, needles, gauze and disinfectants. The hospital is unable to even purchase medical disinfectants for cleaning the hospital and detergents for washing the staff uniforms.

If you are interested in donating equipment, contact us to get a list of equipment needed at the hospital.