The world's largest and most advanced underground hospital is preparing to open its doors in Northern Israel.

The 2,000 bed underground hospital has been designed to protect patients and hospital staff in warlike conditions. This one-of-a-kind medical facility is located seventeen meters below the surface of where Rambam Medical Center is expanding its medical campus to include the Ruth Rappaport Children's Hospital, the Fishman Oncology Center, a Cardiovascular Hospital and a Biomedical Discovery research tower.

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The northern region of Israel is no stranger to missile attacks and the realities of war. During the 2006 war with Lebanon, Rambam Hospital was under attack and in direct line of fire for an entire month. The staff had no choice but to evacuate half of the hospital, placing patients in unrealistic conditions such as basements and corridors. It became clear to the hospital's committee that protective measures needed to be taken for future situations, and a new provision would have to be made in order to continue to function during wartime.

With the conflicts that Israel faces daily from neighboring countries, it was widely accepted that an underground medical facility was nothing short of a necessity in Israel. Even now, despite the "relaxation" of war within Israel, officials say it is imperative to complete this project before any other unpredictability can disrupt it.

Once the idea for an underground hospital was born, the Israeli government became involved, joining forces with Rambam to expedite this process. The project was made possible after receiving a sizable donation from Israeli billionaire Sammy Ofer. The Israeli government and other donors provided the rest of the finances needed. Once signing on to the project, the government had ideas of their own. The Ministries of Health and Finance, together with the official governmental bodies that deal with country’s preparedness, suggested making it a regional hospital, dictating the number of beds it offered. The above-ground facility at Rambam has only a 1,000 bed capacity, while the underground one will have twice as many to meet the demand of providing a strategic solution for Haifa and the Northern region in the case of war.

While there are other underground hospitals in the world, Rambam's is the only facility that will be able to transfer 2,000 patients, their staff, and the necessary equipment underground in the period of 48-72 hours.

During "normal" times, the underground structure will be used as a 3-story parking lot which can hold up to 1,400 vehicles - with noticeable differences. The lot itself is structured in a unique manner, allowing the transition during war time to take place more easily. Every cubicle that can hold 3 cars can hold 8 patients. The walls of the "lot" are equipped with electrical outlets, drinking water, oxygen attachments, air conditioners, and other medical equipment. There are toilets and multiple surgical rooms, as well as a dialysis unit. If the need arises to create the transfer to medical facility, it is a simple matter of removing the cars, washing out and disinfecting the lot, and wheeling in the beds and other equipment.

The facility can function for several days 100% sealed off from the world, completely self-sufficient and protected against chemical, biological and conventional warfare. This protection also extends to earthquakes and other natural disasters, as the hospital's sides and top are protected by multiple layers of concrete, impervious to whatever situation is taking place above ground. The hospital will be able to generate its own power and store enough oxygen, drinking-water and medical and gas supplies for three days.

"I hope it will never be used or needed, I hope it always stays as a parking lot," said Professor Rafael Beyar, the medical center's director general. However, with the daily threats coming at Israel from the North and the East, it is impossible to predict what any day may bring.

The world's medical community has been eyeing this project, as well as other advances at Rambam for some time. Recently, the Rambam Medical Center has joined a collaboration with China, and is also collaborating with two of the leading facilities in the United States: John Hopkins Medical Institution and Cornell University, through its affiliation with the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. Researchers from Rambam's Health Care Campus and the Technion have repeatedly been on the forefront of major medical discoveries in the fields of cardiovascular research, stem cell research and oncology. This kind of international activity puts Rambam in an augmented position of research, much of which takes place on the Rambam campus. The new Research Tower being built directly above the Underground Hospital is sure to continue this legacy of excellence at Rambam.

As the underground hospital nears completion, officials at Rambam are still raising funds for electrical emergency equipment, additional beds, respirators, and other materials for the sophisticated equipment that is needed for their special underground cancer facility. In addition to this, major funds are being raised to support the ongoing construction of the Ruth Rappaport Children’s Hospital, the Joseph Fishman Oncology Center and the Cardiovascular Hospital.

You can support Israel and donate to this important cause to ensure its completion before the war climate in Israel heats up again.

Donations can be sent to: http://aforam.org/get-involved/
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