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On Wednesday, March 9th, Hartford HealthCare East Region President Donna Handley presented Pastor Ivan Bilyk of St. Mary’s Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Willimantic a donation of $5,000 in support of his congregation and their efforts to help the people of Ukraine. She also thanked him for his support of his congregation during these difficult times, and for his role as one of the chaplains at Windham Hospital.

BL: Emily Flamme


With the ongoing war in Ukraine, many organizations are looking for ways to help.  When Deanna Humennyj saw the news coverage, it sparked her to act. She is a labor and delivery nurse at The Hospital of Central Connecticut, who is active in the local Ukranian community.

“My heart is broken by what is going on in my family’s homeland,” Humennyj said. “When I saw a video of mothers giving birth in bomb shelters because hospitals are damaged or destroyed, I knew I needed to do something.”


She said as a nurse, she knew how important post-delivery care is for the mother and baby. In order to help these mothers who just gave birth, Humennyj started collecting items that could be donated. And she did something else, she wrote an email to Hartford HealthCare president and CEO, Jeffrey Flaks.


Flaks said he was so moved by her email, that he pushed leaders to activate the rapid cycle Hartford HealthCARES, a program that galvanizes colleagues and helps give them ways to donate. To date, it has raised more than $50,000. And it is still growing.


He also reached out to the organization’s leaders in Supply Chain, who responded quickly. This week, the team pulled together more than $250,000 worth of much-needed medical supplies.


The items, which include isolation gowns, N95 masks and other basic medical supplies, will be flown to Poland and then driven into Ukraine, said Sharon Fried, vice president of supply chain for Hartford HealthCare.


“I thank Hartford HealthCare for stepping up to the plate, leading by example and helping the people of Ukraine,” Humennyj said. “I know we are inspiring others to do the same.”


Another employee of Hartford HealthCare shared a similar sentiment, Darlene Sawczysyn, who works for the Hartford HealthCare finance team. Her great-grandparents immigrated to New Britain, and she recalls sending clothes and supplies to relatives who lived in Ukraine while growing up.


“I want to recognize specifically, what Hartford HealthCare does for me as a colleague, and colleagues’ well-being through all the different things that we’ve been navigating over the past decade,” Sawczysyn said.


“This is who we are. I’m so proud that our colleagues reached out in support for the people of Ukraine,” Flaks said.