Margaret Bortko
Margaret Bortko
Family Nurse Practitioner · Virginia City, MT

Ukraine refugee camp

April 1st
Przemyśl, Poland

Project Description

I have been invited by World of Connections, an NGO based in the USA, implementing Operation Ukraine. They are reaching out for medical supplies and medical workers and have agreed to my coming onboard. Additionally, I have been communicating with my relatives in Poland and Ukraine.

I am a well-seasoned APRN, presently holding a volunteer position as medical director of Madison County Public Health Department. (That's certainly been a story.)

I have extensive experience working in difficult situations. Through the years I have worked in remote Alaska clinics, Maine fishing villages, frontier communities in Montana, on several Reservations, and disaster work that includes Katrina Hurricane and both Haiti and Nepal earthquakes. I have also been a provider in a our small CAH during a mass shooting, caring for 8 victims and personally knowing them all. I have written a chapter on this case in a textbook called Caring for the Vulnerable (5th edition, ed De Chesnay & Anderson.

Additionally, I have an entire packaged 'clinic' from my own practice that I want to donate. This includes medications, IVs, cases of syringes and gloves, wound care supplies, gallons of Betadine and Hibiclens. This also includes an EKG machine, nebulizers, and examination tools. Besides a roundtrip ticket, flying these medical supplies as baggage can be expensive.

I am a 'can-do' Montanan; my licenses and credentials are current, including ATLS. I am not abandoning a present employer and my children are grown.

To rest any possible ageism~ though 'retired' I am an avid outdoorswoman capable of hiking miles within the Montana wilderness, paddling rivers, ice skating and xc-skiing.

I am the perfect volunteer at this time and willing to give myself 100% to the Ukraine refugees and to the Polish people.

Will it make a difference? My heroes and heroines have always felt helping even one person was the right thing to do.

Population Served

The displaced Ukraine refugees and the Polish people who have opened their arms to the Ukraine's.

Expected Impact

My personal mission is to 'walk the talk'. Bearing witness while offering an empathetic skill set, I hope to be part of the humanitarian action that may bring peace and unity to a troubled world.

I am a writer and a teacher. I have given lectures and presentations on disaster work and earthquake wound care in symposiums, conferences and classrooms. My doctoral work was on the vicarious trauma experienced by emergency workers.

It is an honor to continue my work in these subjects.

Trip Photos & Recap

April 2022.
I had purchased and collected 500# of medical / trauma supplies including IV fluids, Rx, EKG & nebulizers with European electrical adapters, syringes, needles, tourniquets, wound care & clotting gauze, ortho supplies, infant formula, etc. Much was purchased with generous donations from friends and family. United Airlines supervisor in BZN did not charge me for luggage!

These supplies made it from Ennis, Montana to Poland and then across the border to Ukraine. I crossed the border once into Ukraine delivering additional supplies and combat medics to a checkpoint. I returned to Poland and continued working in a large refugee center in Przemysl, where 1000's arrived daily (women, children, the disabled and elderly) with minimal possessions. They fled their homes, leaving their husbands, sons and unknown destinations. The World Kitchen was prominent everywhere, offering soup, hot drinks, sandwiches and fruit to refugees and volunteers. Volunteers from all over the world had united in this cause, assisting in various ways. I had also set up a small pharmacy in a refugee shelter, assisted Ukraine families with travel arrangements and emergency visa applications. Honoring my own family's requests, I did not work on the 'frontlines' in Ukraine.

I did return to the USA with Covid, recovering completely over several weeks.
In summary, working during this crisis in unity with a global community was transformational. It was a healing salve for my moral injuries. My faith in humanity was restored. Thank you, Doximity for this opportunity.