After residing 61 years in a physical setting that increasingly became cramped,
outdated and sometimes even unpleasant, the Hadassah University Medical Center
in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem is taking its first steps on Monday into a new era of
comfort and advancement that translate into better healthcare.
19-story Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower – costing $363 million – is so
different from what Jerusalem patients are used to that they may even look
forward to being hospitalized and dream about staying longer as if it were a
five-star hotel. But besides the obvious esthetics and comfort, the Hadassah
Medical Organization (HMO) and its benefactors, the Hadassah Women’s Zionist
Organization of America (HWZOA), have ensured that its level of medical
treatment, research and teaching will match them.
The first patients will
be rolled onto the fifth floor and into the urology department on Monday
morning, launching a process that began 100 years ago, when Henrietta Szold
founded the women’s organization in the US. The following week, the orthopedics
department will be transferred, with the first of the 13 surgical theaters to
open after Passover. More will be added in the fall, when a massive Hadassah
convention meets in Jerusalem to celebrate and through the early part of 2013,
when the transfer will be completed.
The old hospitalization facility,
built in the 1950s and opened in 1961 with orange bricks and even USstyle
electrical outlets shipped over, will serve outpatients, research and other
needs, but its exact future has not yet been determined.
The corridors in
the new facility were intentionally made too narrow to accommodate hospital
beds, said Dr. Yuval Weiss, the hospital’s director, who planned the project
with longtime HMO director-general Prof. Shlomo Mor-Yosef, who has just been
named director-general of the powerful National Insurance Institute. Mor-Yosef’s
name is among those etched on the cornerstone, having been part of the plans for
the past decade. Weiss said it was shameful for any patient to lie in corridors
to be treated and to sleep.
Taking up the reins is Prof. Ehud
Kokia, also an obstetrician/ gynecologist by profession, who left his post as
head of Maccabi Health Services four months ago to lead the HMO.
first time in the history of the state, the public hospital owned and built by a
voluntary organization received a government grant, as senior Hadassah officials
argued that the government received a “$363m. gift” for healthcare in Jerusalem
and should contribute. Thenfinance minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his
successors agreed to give NIS 169m. as a contribution to the project when it is
New HWZOA president Marcie Natan said that it already has more
than $300m. in contributions for construction and equipment wrapped up, and this
does not include the Treasury grant. It will not be the best in every single
medical sphere in Israel, because the country has developed, Natan said, but it
will be the best in many fields.
Among the luxury features are: A limit
of two beds per hospital room, with two-thirds having two and a third having
one; the single rooms will not cost inpatients any extra money.
digital TV screen, with free broadcasts and Internet, which will serve for
ordering one’s meals within certain times; food is transported by “rail” to each
department after being cooked, cooled down and then heated up rapidly for
The Jerusalem Light Rail will reach the hospitalization
tower’s doorstep in three years, greatly increasing its accessibility and
reducing the need to drive and pay for parking lots.
Intensive care units
will have four beds each and round-the-clock nurses’ supervision.
floor will have a family room with a breathtaking view of the Jerusalem hills,
while certain floors will have trees, gardens and flowing water and a
No smoking will be allowed in the entire
Despite the meticulous planning, The Jerusalem Post
during the press tour on Sunday the almost complete absence of signs in Arabic,
despite the Hebrew and English, which were everywhere. Arabic was nowhere to be
seen in the urology and orthopedic departments on the lovely brushed-metal,
etched signs that adorned the outside of each room, and only in the downstairs
lobby were there translations into Arabic listing “Business Center,” “Sick
Funds” (sic Health Funds) and at some other locations.
As Health Ministry
director-general Prof. Ronni Gamzu issued system-wide instructions that to
promote “cultural competency” all signs should be translated into the languages
of the people served and if at all possible into Hebrew and Arabic (the two
official state languages), the Post
asked why this hadn’t been carried
Natan said “today was the first time I noticed.”
“it was planned years ago for esthetic reasons.”
Kokia said: “I have been
here for four months, but I am responsible for everything. I will look
But upon asking Mor-Yosef, who was not present, the Post
told: “It was a decision intentionally taken that all three languages would be
used in the general facilities but at the department level, it would be only in
Hebrew and English.
Maybe it was a mistake,” said the former HMO
“You raise an important issue. Gamzu’s regulation was
issued later. The fifth story is the pilot floor, and we’ll learn from our
experience and make any necessary changes.
In any case, only the
fifth-floor signs are up, so the rest can be done in three languages.”A
full Health and Science Page feature on the Hadassah hospitalization tower will
appear on Sunday, March 25.