Rambam: From hospital for British wounded in WWII to most developed medical center in North

Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center marks its 75th anniversary on Sunday.

December 22, 2013 03:33
1 minute read.
Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center.

Rambam hospital article 'Palestine Post' 370. (photo credit: Jerusalem Post archives, Rambam Medical Center)

Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center marks its 75th anniversary on Sunday.

In addition to serving the varied local population, the hospital was needed in 1938 to serve the British Navy in the eastern Mediterranean and – with its rail connection to Egypt and Damascus – bring wounded to the Haifa hospital’s doorstep.

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The opening was marked by a page-one article in The Palestine Post, The Jerusalem Post’s predecessor.

On December 22, 1938, Sir Harold MacMichael, the high commissioner for Palestine, dedicated “the finest medical institution in the Middle East,” what is today the Rambam Health Care Campus.

According to accounts, published to mark the 70th anniversary five years ago, after Hitler’s rise to power the threat of war hovered over Europe and England began to prepare for it – The British mandatory government in Palestine decided to construct a large and modern hospital in Haifa.

The contract for the hospital’s planning was awarded to a wellknown Jewish architect from Berlin, Erich Mendelsohn, who had studied and absorbed the Bauhaus school of architectural design and had already planned some of the most impressive buildings in Palestine.

The cost of construction totaled 120,000 Palestine pounds, and it took some three years to complete.

Mendelsohn strove to plan buildings in his new homeland that would integrate the local scenery, climate and culture and thereby symbolize its creation. Mendelsohn’s buildings visibly expressed his principles of light and air, comfort and functionality, causing the construction supervisor to claim that the structure had too much space devoted to windows.

The hospital consisted of two buildings – one with five floors housing 225 beds and nurses’ dormitories, and the other three floors for operating theaters, day clinics and a lab.

Two contractors – an Arab and a Jew – were commissioned to do the construction.

A covered walkway connected the main building to one-story huts where the British patients were housed, so as not to be under the same roof with the “natives.”

Today, Rambam is the largest and most advanced medical center in the North, serving patients within Israel and from outside its borders.

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