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10:40 AM

International outreach

Ukraine physicians study Children's Mercy as model of excellence

"Beautiful,” is how Dr. Dima Petrenko responded when asked to summarize the visit he and five of his colleagues from Ukraine made to Children’s Mercy in January.

“There were no questions they didn’t answer,” said Dr. Petrenko, describing Children’s Mercy as a “cozy” place. “They allowed us to be a part of the hospital.”

Dr. Petrenko is the new head of the orthopaedic department in Kharkiv University Hospital and the Sytenko Institure of Spine and Joint Pathology. Kharkiv is the second-largest city in Ukraine and the Sytenko Institute is the oldest and most respected musculoskeletal institute in Ukraine, once a part of the former Soviet Union but now a sovereign state in Eastern Europe.

Dr. Petrenko and his colleagues are working to modernize their medical institution by organizing their pediatric surgical service according to American standards. He proposed a learning trip to Kansas City to his colleagues because of his relationship with Richard Schwend, MD, Director-Orthopaedic Research Program and President-Elect of the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society North America. Dr. Schwend and Dr. Petrenko met about 10 years ago at a Scoliosis Research Society (SRS) conference in Edinburgh, Scotland.

“We have become very good friends,” Dr. Schwend said. “I have visited them three times. We email a lot, see each other at meetings, and do telemedicine when I have a particularly interesting surgical case.”

In fact, even though this was his first visit to Children's Mercy, because of telemedicine, Dr. Petrenko said, “I saw a lot of familiar faces,” when he visited the OR in person just from having observed surgeries online.

In addition to Dr. Petrenko, an orthopaedic surgeon, Children's Mercy hosted:

  • Volodymyr Savenkov, MD, Director of the Kharkiv University Clinic;
  • Viktoria Savenkova, MD, Scientific Director;
  • Andrey Mezentsev, MD, Senior Researcher;
  • Yaroslav Degtyarov, MD, Pediatric Surgeon; and
  • Volodymyr Bubna, MD, Hand Surgeon

Dr. Petrenko said highlights of the trip included learning about advanced technology employed by Children's Mercy, including telemedicine; organizational learnings; and insights into the hospital’s research processes.

Dr. Savenkov added, “I would like to thank Children’s Mercy for this opportunity. Our ultimate goal is to establish a long-term collaboration between us, to develop research investigation, professional collaboration and experience exchanges.”

Pamela Frank, Director-International Services, said Children’s Mercy shares interest in collaboration with colleagues around the world to improve the health of all children.

“Many of our Children’s Mercy physicians are engaged internationally, and frequently collaborate with physicians in other countries," she said. "Identifying and supporting such ambassadors like Dr. Schwend is key to positioning Children's Mercy on the world stage. His past work with Kharkiv University Clinic paves the way for a potential long-term and sustainable institutional partnership. Most hospitals create silos for international outreach… Global Health, International Medicine, Medical Travel, International Research, GME, etc. Children's Mercy is developing a more synergetic approach to ‘world health’ which will include not just patient referrals and educational exchanges, but also global branding; physician retention and recruitment; and innovation.”


Learn more about telemedicine and surgery at Children's Mercy.