Hadassah-University Medical Center, the mayor of Beit Shemesh and the Health Ministry announced plans on Monday to open a branch of the hospital in Beit Shemesh.“This is important news for the residents of Beit Shemesh,” Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman said during a modest ceremony held in the city, which is about 21 kilometers from Jerusalem. Hadassah director Dr. Zeev Rothstein and Beit Shemesh Mayor Aliza Bloch also attended the ceremony. Construction on the medical center is expected to start in about 18 months and will include an emergency room, specialist and outpatient surgery clinics, and imaging and dialysis units.The establishment of the clinic is a testament to Beit Shemesh, Bloch said.“The Health Ministry and Hadassah Hospital understand that the residents of this city need to receive high-quality medical services,” she said. “I see the approval given by the Health Ministry and Hadassah to establish this branch as an opportunity not only to provide more services to our residents but also as a chance to develop the city’s med-tech arena.”Beit Shemesh has grown from about 24,000 residents in 1995 to more than 130,000 today, according to a report published by the city and Hadassah. It is expected to have some 350,000 residents by 2035.The closest hospital to Beit Shemesh is Hadassah-University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem, which can be a 40-minute drive during traffic.