Ukrainian medical professionals treating patients in Jelgava

While Russia's war continues to wrack their homeand, Ukrainian arrivals in Latvia continue to display their resilience and willingness to contribute to their host country.

Among their number are Olena Rešetniak and Valentina Kuharčuk. Although the longing for their homeland is huge, they are grateful for Latvian hospitality and have started a new life here, finding jobs in their specialty in at Jelgava polyclinic, while their children study in local educational institutions and they diligently learn the Latvian language.

Olena Rešetniak has started work at Jelgava polyclinic in one of the family doctor's practices as an additional doctor in the practice of family doctor Brigita Kļavkalne, under the supervision of Alda Siliņa. Outside working hours she learns the Latvian language and, when accepting a patient, already speaks Latvian at an impressive level.

"I communicate in Latvian as much as I know how," she says with a a smile after her first weeks at the polyclinic, adding that it is possible to communicate with some patients in other languages, too, including Russian.

Olena has been practicing as a family doctor in Ukraine since 2012. She lived in Donetsk region, later moving to the west of Ukraine. However, the war turned the  everyday life upside down and Olena and her family arrived in Latvia in mid-August.

Both of her children have settled in educational institutions in Jelgava. Housing has also been found, and work has resumed. Olena is not thinking about returning to her homeland at the moment, and becomes emotional when talking about the damage done to Ukraine by the invaders.

Also at Jelgava polyclinic is nurse Valentina Kuharčuka, who has been working there since leaving Kyiv in April. When the war started, she did not plan to leave Ukraine, but her daughter and grandson persuaded her to do so.

"I was more afraid to let them go alone than to stay. I also realized that safety comes first, that's why I quickly packed my things and we set off," recalls Valentina. Only the destination was known. Latvia was chosen because the daughter works in an international company that also operates in our country, so there was hope that at least one member of the family would have the opportunity to work and provide for the others.

Arriving in Latvia, Valentina was pleasantly surprised at the responsiveness and the system designed to support refugees. "I could not imagine that someone would offer me a job so quickly," she says and she can now apply the vast amount of experience she has acquired over 36 years as a nurse.

Communication with patients is also successful. Everyone is informed that the specialist is from Ukraine,
and that she has no objection to using the Russian language in conversation if it is convenient – but help is also on hand to provide translation when necessary.

"The Latvian language is difficult, but I am motivated to learn it," Valentina says, noting that she is getting help from her grandson, who is currently studying in one of Jelgava's primary schools and whose Latvian language skills are devloping quickly.

"Jelgava is a very clean, beautiful and peaceful city. There are warm and open-hearted people here. Local support has made it possible to feel more confident and peaceful," says Valentina. However, like Olena she says that she is very much waiting for the situation in Ukraine to improve so that she will be able to return to her homeland.

"We were very happy to welcome Olena and Valentina to our team. They are knowledgeable and diligent employees who are of great value. All parties benefit: the new employees have gained a stable and motivating workplace, patients - competent and helpful medical staff, and Jelgava polyclinic – new professionals. It is no secret that the medical system in Latvia has an acute lack of workers, so it is even more satisfying that in the case of Olena and Valentina there was mutual interest in starting work," says Kintija Barloti, head of the Jelgava polyclinic.

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