Ukraine hospital nearly evacuated patients after Russian strikes cut water supply

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One of Ukraine’s largest state hospitals was “on the verge of evacuating” some patients after it lost water supply because of Russian air strikes on Wednesday, a regional official told CNN.

Moscow has sent a barrage of missiles to target energy “generation facilities” in its latest effort to cripple Ukrainian infrastructure, resulting in a temporary loss of power to the national grid with knock on effects on the water supply. On Friday more than 6 million customers were still without power, said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The Kyiv Regional Clinical Hospital was on the edge of evacuating patients who require haemodyalisis to other facilities.

The Kyiv Regional Clinical Hospital was about to move patients undergoing haemodyalisis treatment, which requires an uninterrupted water supply, said Vitaliy Vlasiuk, the deputy head of Kyiv region military administration, in a telephone interview.

“Unfortunately when the power goes off in Kyiv, the central water supply also often fails,” Vlasiuk said. “A lack of water supply is critical.

“Without water, it is difficult to run the hospital. First of all, sterilization rooms suffer and haemodyalisis is impossible to conduct,” he added.

“On Wednesday, the Kyiv Regional Clinical Hospital was on the edge of evacuating patients who require haemodyalisis to other facilities, but in the afternoon the water supply was restored and everyone received the procedures vital for them,” said Vlasiuk.

Hospitals have generators that kick in when the power is cut but these have limited capacity, Vlasiuk said. Medical chiefs try to conserve power by using them only for essential activities.

“It’s definitely essential to supply intensive care units and the resuscitation equipment with power. And baby boxes, fridges for the vaccines and other vital equipment will of course be immediately supplied with generator power,” he said.

A view of Ukraine's capital Kyiv without power is seen on November 23.

Tens of thousands are without power in Kyiv, seen here during a blackout on November 24.

Power from the generators allow surgeons to continue operations underway during a blackout, but non-urgent surgery will not take place.

On Saturday morning, the Kyiv City Military Administration said that around 130,000 people in the Ukrainian capital remain without electricity supply following Wednesday’s emergency shutdowns.

Water supply has been restored across all districts with heat supply also being back online, according to the update. Mobile phone networks are available in nearly all districts although power outages may limit access.

Dark streets in Kyiv are seen on November 23.

In the Lviv region in the west of the country, “critical” equipment like incubators and the intensive care wards were “switched to generator power within seconds” of a blackout, said Orest Chemerys, head of the regional health department.

Almost all the region’s healthcare facilities survived on generators after Wednesday’s airstrikes, but power had now been restored, he said.

“We are prepared for a situation in which there might be no power for seven to 10 days,” Chemerys said.

Each hospital in the Lviv region has a generator and the authorities have agreements with local gas stations to supply fuel, he added.

Regional hospitals did not report any interruption in water supply, “however each health care facility does have a water reservoir with enough pure water in order to switch immediately in case of any emergency and keep the hospital running,” said Chemerys.

Ukraine’s minister of health, Viktor Liashko, told national TV on Friday that each hospital with an ICU and operating room had a generator, and the government was “bringing in additional generators to further increase capacity.”

Russia has turned its attention to destroying energy infrastructure in Ukraine ahead of the bitter winter season, and successive waves of strikes have left much of the country facing rolling blackouts.

The UN Human Rights Chief said Friday that millions of Ukrainians are being “plunged into extreme hardship and appalling conditions of life” because of Moscow’s repeated strikes on energy facilities, adding: “Taken as a whole, this raises serious problems under international humanitarian law, which requires a concrete and direct military advantage for each object attacked.”

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