On February 24, 2022, the doors of the Therapy and Rehabilitation Clinic in Mykolayiv opened despite Russia’s invasion. Almost all clinic staff either fled the city or hid from the invaders’ shelling in their homes. Clinic director Dmytro Motorny understood that he needed to stay with his people and help in every way possible. The spring of 2022 could have been the last one for the clinic; but, Dmytro was determined to fight for the life of his business. An EU4Business micro-grant to support his business became a lifeline.
Socially Responsible Healthcare
A clinic for joint and spine therapy and rehabilitation, OrtoSano-Mykolayiv, was founded in December 2019, just over two years before the full-scale Russian invasion. The clinic opened at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic and immediately faced challenges. When the world was quarantined, OrtoSano-Mykolayiv launched free online consultations for city and regional residents. Clinic founder and director, Dmytro Motorny, was guided by his conviction that people with musculoskeletal system problems must not be left alone with their pain.
To locate patients, Dmytro promoted social media consultations.
“This was the best advertising ever, I paid only doctors and $100 a month for Facebook,” recollects Dmytro. “The effect was profound, because we worked with the target audience and helped people in a difficult situation. At the conclusion of the first quarantine, we had no more problems with patients. Our team made the most of the crisis in favor of the people and I received the first successful experience of investing in gratuitous aid.”
Free bus trips were launched from the clinic for patients who could not travel for procedures on their own. A discount system was introduced for the Ukrainian military and anti-terrorist operation veterans. Dmytro wanted the clinic to work as a commercial institution and be socially responsible.
In the fall of 2020, the OrtoSano team conducted the first large-scale Mykolayiv medical examinations of children with posture disorders and limb deformities in the Mykolayiv region. It was unprecedented. A year later, this initiative transformed into a project of caring for children’s health and promoting prevention of postural disorder. Known as Healthy Youth, schoolchildren could be examined by experienced specialists and participate in a health-improvement course at the clinic’s expense.
The best rehabilitation specialists in the city instructed children on how to behave correctly in motion and at rest and taught therapeutic exercises. Forty-six children from the region were treated under the Healthy Youth project until Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
“Until February 24, 2022, we were doing social projects, implementing crazy ideas and very rapidly developing the clinic,” says Dmytro. “OrtoSano is an all-Ukrainian network, but it is our clinic in Mykolayiv that places a strong emphasis on therapy and its combination with rehabilitation. In this area, we carried out profound work and grew intensively. Over three years, we provided services to more than 3,000 patients.”
War Can Stop Our work, But Not Us
On the first day of Russia’s invasion, the clinic opened as usual. Everyone was frightened and confused; but Dmytro could not leave his life business. He admits that it was a scary and difficult time, especially when heavy shelling began on February 26 and the enemy was close to Mykolayiv. At the same time, the movement of public transport stopped and a decision was made to temporarily close the clinic.
With his wife Antonina, Dmytro began volunteer work and soon they both turned the clinic into a Point of Invincibility. They transported medicines from the clinic to local hospitals, spent almost all their savings in support of Ukraine’s Armed Forces by purchasing cars and delivering body armor, helmets, walkie-talkies and other necessary supplies from international foundations.
At the conclusion of March, despite constant Russian shelling of Mykolayiv, public transport resumed and OrtoSano reopened its door to patients. At that time, the vast majority of staff had been evacuated. Of the 20 staff members, only three remained in the city: the administrator, the rehabilitation specialist and the clinic’s leading physician. The business needed fresh ideas and solutions to adapt to new realities.
With other colleagues from OrtoSano network clinics, they developed a rehabilitation program for war injuries. And, the Mykolayiv clinic team laid a foundation for a new social project, The Power of the Real, to overcome the consequences of the war and maintain combat capability of Ukraine’s Armed Forces. The project supported military personnel, local residents and internally displaced persons who had been wounded by shelling with free treatment at OrtoSano. After negotiations with the local military hospital, fighters were then sent to the OrtoSano for rehabilitation.
The company lacked personnel and financial support; but, found resources thanks to a EU4Business micro-grant.
A Long-awaited Helping Hand
Dmytro grabbed every opportunity to support the clinic’s activities. Competing for a micro-grant was the business’ last hope. He learned of the opportunity to receive financial support in the amount of UAH 150,000 – the equivalent of 4,000 euros – from the EU4Business program though the Diia mobile application and immediately decided to apply. When Dmytro and Antonina received the message of the micro-grant allocation to their business, they were in the middle of the street. He recalls that both of them jumped with joy and almost cried.
“Thanks to a micro-grant from EU4Business we were able to survive,” says Dmytro. “In the conditions in which we found ourselves, we needed only one thing – a helping hand. It really was a powerful impetus to everything that we did next.”
And, then everything began developing quickly. The Power of the Real was in its active phase: Project assistance was provided to about 30 patients. A leading doctor and two rehabilitation specialists returned to the clinic from their evacuation. A nurse was identified.
The EU4Business microgrant made it possible to purchase a third myostimulation apparatus to restore muscle, a massage bed, two equipped cabins for physiotherapy and the purchase of enough consumables to avoid shortages and logistics until the end of the year. Because of the micro-grant, it was possible to pay for utilities and a heat pump which lessened dependence on natural gas.
With expanded capacity the OrtoSano clinic can now provide more services in healthcare where there is particularly high demand. The clinic’s client flow has grown significantly. Half of patients were treated on a paid basis and funded the company’s social initiatives.
How Does the Clinic Function Now?
“For 2022, we had a company development plan, which was scrapped on February 24,” says Dmytro. “But in November, we suddenly realized that we managed to fulfill 90 percent of the plan.”
As of mid-January, the OrtoSano clinic manages 69 patients, of which 27 are in the military. One hundred and fifty-eight patients have received free treatment and rehabilitation under The Power of the Real project, 150 in the Ukrainian military. Soldiers can simultaneously undergo medical treatment and a course of rehabilitation and recovery. The vast majority of soldiers have returned to their combat missions after treatment.
The OrtoSano clinic team has provided free medical assistance worth almost $23,000 and, in 2023, it is planned to increase treatment volume to $50,000.
Dmytro says receiving a micro-grant from the EU4Business program inspired him to open another clinic in Odessa. He has received a new grant under the Jobs program and has been trained in creating a business sustainability strategy under the EU4Business program.
Future plans are to continue project implementation, strengthen the social impact of business, make clinic services more accessible and help Ukrainians overcome this terrible war’s consequences. And, of course, work for victory!
Microgrants are supported by the international cooperation program, “EU4Business: SME Competitiveness and Internationalisation”, funded by the European Union and the German Government and is implemented by the German development organization, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH in cooperation with The Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine, The Ministry of Economy of Ukraine, the public service online portal, "Diia", the national project for development of entrepreneurship and export, Diia.Business, and the Ukrainian state institution, the Entrepreneurship and Export Promotion Office. The microgrant initiative implementing partner is the international organization, East Europe Foundation.
Photos: © Sole proprietor "Motornyi D.A.", author Daria Zanko.