Like so many people, Ron Gutman watched the war break out in Ukraine and decided he wanted to do something to help. The co-founder and co-CEO of the health technology company, Intrivo, sat down with Jessica Abo to share what he is doing and how you can get involved.
Jessica Abo: Ron, can you start by telling us a little bit about your company?
Intrivo is a technology company with a mission to bring health to you. We were one of the first ones to get a special authorization by the FDA to create, sell, and deliver rapid at-home COVID tests and helped many millions of people live healthier, safer, and happier lives.
How did you go about bringing COVID tests to Ukraine?
Shipping COVID tests anywhere in the world is a big challenge because regulatory and shipping supply chains are completely broken and getting it into a war zone it’s close to impossible. We shipped more than a million dollars worth of On/Go COVID-19 tests, so this large number of tests went first into Poland and then into Ukraine. I also made the decision to go with the tests themselves and actually meet the hospital executives, meet the staff, and meet the doctors. I wanted to make sure that they were trained well to be able to distribute the tests and provide them with computers and the software, because what we gave them is not just a test, but also a way to monitor outbreaks in the trajectory of the outbreak, so they can actually act very quickly to make sure that it doesn’t spread throughout the entire hospitals.
From the time you visited Ukraine until now, how has your mission evolved?
When I was there, I really brought back a wishlist of a bunch of things that they actually need beyond COVID tests, beyond handling the pandemic, because they’re not getting aid elsewhere. We got these very specific lists that now we’re going through and working with partners to bring them on board, to create a package of care that we could turn around and go back to Ukraine because unfortunately, we believe that this conflict will be a prolonged one.
What broke my heart more than anything else, to be honest with you, is going to the children’s hospital, going into the neonatal department and meeting the nurses, meeting the doctors there, and seeing the pressure that they had in premature birth, which I never thought about. I think of wars, you think about injuries from missiles and all these kinds of things. You don’t think so many women who are pregnant are under such stress that the percentage of premature babies just skyrocketed. When they had actual missile attacks, they had to move the entire neonatal ward to the basement, which it’s unimaginable.
They’re lacking equipment there. They’re lacking all kinds of things that have to do with taking care of a premature baby. Just before we came, when we said, ‘Well, we’re going to bring you software,’ they said, ‘We don’t really have enough hardware.’ So we brought laptops with us to Ukraine.
I think that these are the kind of small things that if you are a healthcare entrepreneur, a healthcare executive, and you have certain things that you know that you can help with, let us know. We are going to go back. If you have a surplus of something or something that you feel is easy to contribute, please let us know.