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Israel's high-level healthcare is highlighted these days by the country's smallest ambassadors - postage stamps. A series of four stamps issued in recent months by the Israeli Postal Society is dedicated to healthcare in Israel.
Four medical facilities, all located in the center of the county and serving patients from all over Israel, were chosen to represent different fields of health: Beit Loewenstein; the Shmuel Harofe Geriatric Center; The Lev Hasharon Mental Health Medical Center; and the Schneider Children's Medical Center.
In 2003, the ministers of health and communications came up with the idea of issuing a series devoted to medicine in Israel. Stamps issued until then presented health professions such as dentistry. Since those stamps did not deal with the broader local health scene, it was decided to issue a series on this subject. As required in the stamp-making process, the choice of topic was made following the recommendation of an inter-ministerial committee. Four categories were chosen: rehabilitation, geriatrics, mental health and pediatric medicine. The representative medical center in each field was chosen after consultations with many professionals.
The stamps, designed by Hayymi Kivkovich, are splashed with bright colors and have a symbolic picture for each field - for example, a cane for the geriatric facility and a teddy bear held in a child's arm for the pediatric hospital. The medical facility is depicted at the bottom of the stamp.
A ceremony was held recently to mark the new stamp at the Loewenstein Hospital Rehabilitation Center, widely known as Beit Loewenstein (pronounced Levenstein), which is devoted entirely to rehabilitation. Miraculous stories of soldiers or terror victims who were severely injured and slowly rehabilitated have appeared in the media.
"The Loewenstein Hospital, which has become a trademark concept in quality rehabilitation, was chosen to represent rehabilitation because of the professionalism and reputation acquired over dozens of years," says its director, Prof. Jacob Hart. "The hospital started rehabilitating soldiers with head injuries during the  Yom Kippur War. Since then, our experience in rehabilitation has served as a model throughout the world. Beit Loewenstein is synonymous with rehabilitation."
Beit Loewenstein was established in Ra'anana as the only rehabilitation hospital of Clalit Health Services, Israel's largest health care provider. Today, the multi-story building accommodates 240 rehabilitative beds for short- and long-term hospital care. Its therapies include occupational therapy, physiotherapy, speech therapy and art therapy. Patients arrive from all parts of the country, all health funds, the Defense Ministry, the Health Ministry, general hospitals, local clinics and even from overseas
The value of the stamp depicting the Shmuel Harofe Geriatric Center is NIS 1.40, for use on regular mail in Israel, thus giving it plenty of exposure. "It's about time a geriatric medical center received its due respect, since the importance of geriatric medical care is often overlooked," states Dr. Vera Rosenfeld, director of Shmuel Harofe located in Beer Ya'akov, near Rishon Lezion.
Serving residents from the center of the country, government hospital Shmuel Harofe offers professional care for the elderly population. Its departments include acute medicine, neurological and orthopedic rehabilitation, a pulmonary department and complex nursing. Shmuel Harofe, with 350 beds, is not a facility for chronic hospitalization. Patients come from their own homes or from senior citizen homes, to which they return after treatment. The medical staff, who are experts in geriatrics and internal medicine, treat the unique and often complex medical problems of the elderly. Rosenfeld notes the importance of a kind word and a smile to help the elderly patient feel better.
The Lev Hasharon Mental Health Medical Center in Netanya serves as a community mental health facility for the vicinity of the Sharon, Emek Hefer, the Arab triangle, Netanya and Bnei Brak. In treating some disorders, including combat post-traumatic stress disorder, trauma of Holocaust survivors and co-morbidity of mental disorders and drugs, Lev Hasharon accepts patients from around the country.
"We treat a heterogeneous population of Jews, Muslims and Christians, religious and secular, veteran and new immigrants," says director Prof. Avi Bleich. "The center offers a continuity of care for various disorders, from hospitalization to community care using community clinics for adults and adolescents in Netanya and Taibe."
Treatments include biological, psychological and rehabilitative therapies. A government hospital, Lev Hasharon started out in structures abandoned by the British in 1947. Urgent medical cases and Holocaust survivors suffering from severe physical and mental conditions were initially sent there. Today, the facility has 260 beds, while an adjacent psychogeriatric facility for Holocaust survivors has 100 beds.
Bleich feels that the choice of Lev Hasharon for the stamp reflects "the historical aspect of the resurrection of the state and absorption of Holocaust survivors, the complex human mosaic of Israeli society, and the implementation of the modern outlook of the continuity of treatment from the hospital to the community."
"A child is not a small adult" is the philosophy behind the comprehensive treatment at the Schneider Children's Medical Center in Petah Tikva, which was chosen to represent a pediatric facility in the stamp series.
"The Schneider center is a unique tertiary medical center in Israel and the Middle East," says director Prof. Marc Maimouni. "Children from all over the country, who are referred here for diagnosis and treatment, are hospitalized in a modern, state-of-the-art center. We are honored to represent pediatric medicine in Israel."
The 250-bed facility, belonging to Clalit, has clinics, departments and units in all specializations of pediatric medicine and surgery. Schneider's comprehensive treatment of the child relies on many experts from all fields of pediatrics, advanced equipment and optimal hospitalization conditions, thus representing a new era in the pediatric medicine in Israel. The child's recovery process depends not only on the treatment of his disease but also on attention to his healthy side. Among its special services are therapeutic karate classes, treatment of eating disorders in children, and preparing pre-schoolers for first grade.
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