Northwell Health has debuted a short film that documents the effects of the ongoing Russia/Ukraine conflict on hospitals, frontline clinical staffers and patients in the war-ravaged area.
Filmed over the course of a few days in May, “Two Wars” delves into the challenges faced by healthcare workers treating patients at Lviv Regional Children’s Specialized Clinical Hospital in western Ukraine.
To date, the conflict has destroyed nearly 100 healthcare facilities across the country, resulted in the deaths of more than 4,000 people and displaced millions. The film includes harrowing scenes of healthcare workers treating children who have pediatric illnesses amid bomb sirens and evacuation orders.
Director Rafael Lewandowski characterized the opportunity to document the Ukraine invasion as a “mission.” His goal: To amplify the voices of individuals suffering through trying times.
Lewandowski added that it was critical to include children in the film to underscore the physical and psychological damage wrought by the invasion, including the separation of families for safety reasons.
“In this situation of war, when hospitals are a target for Russian aggressors, I think it’s an important problem that should be filmed,” he explained.
“Two Wars” also details the universal challenge of burnout facing healthcare workers. In one scene, a doctor who has worked all night acknowledges that she can’t sleep for 15 minutes between shifts because she has consumed too many caffeinated drinks in order to stay awake.
Lewandowski said that the film was shot in a simple, direct way so that the participating healthcare workers could effectively convey their emotions and thoughts to the audience. He said that by the time filming wrapped, a strong bond had formed between the production team and the clinical staff.
“We tried to make a film for them: For the Ukrainian people, the doctors and the children,” he said. “During these four days that we spent in this hospital, there was tension all the time and we tried to catch all we could with a lot of sensibility and honesty. It was a great involvement of the team; we were moved and felt the same emotions.”
Northwell has provided medical capabilities to Ukrainian healthcare facilities, notably via a nationwide telemedicine support system.
“When healthcare is attacked, you don’t just sit back and let it happen. You ask where you can help,” said Northwell CEO Michael Dowling in a statement.