Yitshak Kreiss: Healthcare 'best vehicle' for peace in the region

#24 - Running the nation’s hospital: Yitshak Kreiss

Sheba Medical Center director-general Yitshak Kreiss visits a patient (photo credit: Courtesy)
Sheba Medical Center director-general Yitshak Kreiss visits a patient
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer is Israel’s largest hospital and repeatedly named among the world’s top hospitals in almost any report. At its helm is director Prof. Yitshak Kreiss.
“Sheba is not just a hospital – it’s an idea, a concept,” Kreiss told The Jerusalem Post. “We have a commitment, a role in the world, not only to provide the best medical care we can give people here in Israel, but also to have an impact on healthcare in the world.” When the coronavirus crisis hit, this is exactly what Sheba tried to do.
The hospital was the first to open a COVID-19 ward in Israel, and the first in the world to establish a coronavirus telemedicine program.
No. 23: Fighting for Jewish women >>>
No. 25: Israel's cycling philanthropist >>>
Full list >>>
“We immediately understood that we would have to think differently to provide care when dealing with this pandemic.”
The country’s national command center was established at Sheba. The Mossad came to work there, too. Outside of Israel, health leaders from the United States, Europe and even the Persian Gulf reached out for help and with offers to collaborate.
Sheba established the CORONA HUB at its ARC (Accelerate, Redesign, Collaborate) as an innovation center focused on finding technological tools to care for coronavirus patients.
“It is part of our Zionism,” Kreiss said of these and other efforts. “It is part of our role as healthcare providers and it is part of our being a light unto the nations - tikkun olam.”
He said when he first started, he thought a goal was to be the largest or the best, now he understands that as the largest and the best, “we have a commitment to impact the world.”
In June 2019, Kreiss attended the “Peace for Prosperity” workshop in Bahrain and shared pictures on Facebook of his visit with Bahrain’s former Ambassador to the United States, Houda Nonoo.
According to the post, “they discussed how healthcare and medical innovation can spur economic growth for the Middle East and Gulf regions.” “The conference was called Peace for Prosperity,” Kreiss said. “I understood immediately that healthcare – medicine – is one of the best vehicles for prosperity in the region. It has no barriers at all. You can build a true bridge.”
Since that summer, Kreiss said he has been talking with anyone who is willing – including the United Arab Emirates, which recently announced efforts to normalize ties with Israel. He said Sheba is working with other Gulf states, too, but he could not share details yet or it could “endanger the relationships.”
Can Sheba continue going strong through a second and eventually third wave of COVID-19?
“I can say positively that Sheba can cope with the challenge,” Kreiss told the Post. “This is our duty and commitment to the State of Israel.”