Dr. Jim Pettey
Dr. Jim Pettey believes volunteering allows you to explore your own basic humanity and touch the humanity of others. He has volunteered in developing countries where basic human needs, like clean water, are difficult to come by, and medical care is often even more inaccessible.
“All too often we remain willingly oblivious to fellow humans struggling to simply survive. We shower and expect the water “hot, clean and now,” while in so many parts of the world, a five-year-old carries a gallon container to a community well a mile away and waits to fill it for the family,” he observed.
Dr. Pettey, an orthopedic surgeon from Kentucky, recently traveled to Ukraine with Global Care Force Founder, Dr. Gary Morsch, to determine the medical needs of the Ukrainian people. They visited hospitals in Kyiv and Cherkasy, as well as the war-damaged areas of Irpin and Bucha. He accompanied Dr. Maksym Prystupiuk of Kyiv City Clinical Hospital #4 on rounds and did the same with surgeons in Cherkasy. Despite the hardship Ukrainian doctors are under, Dr. Pettey was impressed by the level of cleanliness and the quality of care provided by Ukrainian medical colleagues.
Outside of medical assessment, the team, which included Pastor Bob Skinner, a former missionary to Ukraine, often accompanied host pastor Sergiy Dziba as he delivered food to Ukrainians in need, often living in damaged apartments or homes, and without the means to obtain necessities on their own.
“Seeing the energy, enthusiasm, and genuine agape love displayed by Sergiy and his family as they shared what little they had with others was inspiring, as was witnessing the gratitude radiating from those being gifted,” said Dr. Pettey.
He will never forget meeting an 85-year-old woman who had endured the horrors of the invasion and witnessing the killing of her neighbors. As the team delivered a basket of food to her, the woman burst into tears of joy upon seeing Pastor Skinner, who she remembered from his missionary days in Ukraine. Her joy was quickly replaced with tears of fear and pain as she recounted the terror of Russian tanks, the assault on her people, and fear for her own life. The moment was very moving for all.
Before going into private practice, Dr. Pettey served 20 years in the United States Air Force. In medical school, he spent time in Liberia, setting the hook on health care in developing countries. He’s traveled to many countries, like Rwanda, Bhutan, and Tanzania, treating diseases rarely encountered in Western medicine, delivering babies, and even treating lion bites. He went to Haiti after the earthquake in 2021 and performed 69 surgeries in the first three weeks.
Volunteering allows Dr. Pettey to participate in something far more important than himself. “Though you give of yourself, you always receive far more in return, but expect to leave a part of your heart and soul with those you serve.”
Dr. Pettey never felt unsafe or in danger while in Ukraine. He would tell others wanting to volunteer in Ukraine with Global Care Force to expect an incredibly warm reception from an oppressed, but proudly defiant population extremely grateful that you would come to assist them. He adds that the situations there can be quite fluid and being adaptable is an invaluable asset for any volunteer. Lastly, do not choose not to go because you feel you have nothing to give or that you may have to step outside of your comfort zone. “Everyone has something to give – embrace the uncomfortable.”
Dr. Pettey and his wife, Katy, have three adult sons and one (soon to be two) grandchildren.
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