Its “hotel services” are probably the last thing most people think of when they
have to be hospitalized in a public medical center. They want the best doctors,
nurses and medical technology to treat their condition and – preferably – not to
get a bed in a corridor.
But five star hotel-like clean and pleasant
accommodations; privacy, a nice view, good food, quiet, greenery and free TV and
Internet are no longer regarded as a luxury by hospital managements competing
for patients/customers today. Being hospitalized in such an environment surely
promotes healing, even if it hasn’t been proven in a double-blind, randomly
controlled clinical study.
Although it was in the second half of the
1980s, giving birth to one of my children in the old maternity ward of Hadassah
University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem left me with an unpleasant
memory – seeing large cockroaches climbing on the stack of unused plastic trays
in the room where the new mothers ate. “We know about them, but unfortunately,
we haven’t been able to get rid of them,” a nurse shrugged.
have changed! No such“wildlife” would dare populate the magnificent 19-story
Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower, costing $363 million, alongside its
nine-year-old Charlotte Bloomberg Mother and Child Center, which will constitute
Hadassah’s inpatient facilities for the decades to come.
reporters taken on a tour of the edifice, including the fifth-floor urology
department that was the first to be populated, could have described it as a “wow
experience.” It could be regarded as the most comprehensive and modern public
hospital in Israel and one of the most advanced in the region – at least for
Outgoing Hadassah Medical Organization (HMO) director-general Prof.
Shlomo Mor-Yosef; the Hadassah Women’s Zionist Organization of America (HWZOA)
whose 100th birthday gift to Jerusalem the tower was; and everyone else involved
in financing, planning, constructing and equipping the facility deserve a major
pat on the back and a hug. Not taking credit was Prof. Ehud Kokia, who four
months ago left his post as head of Maccabi Health Services to lead the HMO; he
has “inherited” inherited a ready-made jewel.
HWZOA has an impressive
record of promoting health in Eretz Yisrael for the past century. The first two
nurses were sent by founder Henrietta Szold in 1913, followed by a full-scale
medical team. The organization set up well-baby clinics and infirmaries and
later hospitals were set up all over Israel. A nursing school, medical school,
school of pharmacy, school for dentistry, school of public health and school of
occupational therapy were established.
While the volunteers of Hadassah
worked to gather funds for this expanding health network, HWZOA’s membership
grew to hundreds of thousands of women in all 50 states. At both its Ein Kerem
and Mount Scopus, more than 5,000 health care professionals – 800 physicians,
2,200 nurses, 500 paramedical and 1,500 support staff – are employed.
orange brick-faced old Ein Kerem inpatient facility opened by the women’s
organization 51 years ago became increasingly cramped, outdated and sometimes
even unpleasant. It will be renovated and used for outpatient clinics, research
and other not-yet-planned facilities.
The first department to move was
urology, whose patients were rolled to another world of one-or-two bed suites;
it will be followed this week by orthopedics, which will share the fifth floor.
The rest will be moved gradually, with the height of excitement in the fall,
when a massive Hadassah convention meets in Jerusalem to celebrate its
centennial. Within a year, all the inpatient departments and 13 hitech operating
rooms will be in place and past the settling-in stages.
The ward halls
were intentionally made just too narrow to accommodate hospital beds, said Dr.
Yuval Weiss, the hospital’s director, who was very closely involved in the
planning and implementation. “No patient should have to lie in a hospital
corridor,” he adds. If, in a winter flu epidemic, there is “patient buildup,”
those who arrive would be kept longer in the previously rebuilt 70-bed emergency
department; possibly, if there is no choice, some patients could be sent to
former inpatient facilities in the old hospital.
As the inpatient rooms
hug the exterior envelope of the building, each patient has a view. The nurses’
stations and other technical facilities are at the core. Six speedy elevators
are ready for the public, and eight more will be used to move patients,
equipment and food.
Each spacious hospital room will have either two beds
half-facing either other, with a curtain in between, or only one bed, plus a
modern bathroom. Two-thirds will be doubles, Weiss notes, “as some people prefer
to be with someone else.” The single rooms will not cost inpatients any extra
A large digital TV screen, with free broadcasts and Internet,
hangs from the ceiling at the foot of every hospital bed.
The LCD screen
will be used not just for entertainment, surging and communicating with family
and friends; it which will serve for ordering one’s meal choices within certain
times; food is transported by “rail” to each department after being cooked,
cooled down and then heated up rapidly for freshness.
antibacterial alcohol gel is placed at the foot of every bed, and there are
signs to remind nurses and doctors to use them to reduce nosocomial
(hospitalcaused) infection rates.
The tower will have satellite radiology
and a dedicated imaging center; include all the hospital’s major supply services
and possibly basic laboratory services. A sophisticated communications
infrastructure will support seamless integration of all clinical and research
projects and make patient information immediately available.
care units will have four beds each and round-the-clock nurses’
The whole hospital tower was developed as a “green building”
to reduce costs and use the sun’s rays for warmth and light as much as possible.
A computerized lighting system responds to external elements.
radiant beam heaters in the patients’ rooms, eliminating the need for electrical
connections; rooftop centrifugal chillers with magnetic bearings cut power
usage; computerized control systems save energy; residual heat conserves energy;
and the recycling of condensation water from the steam system save
A large, well-equipped family room will be set in the V-shaped
angle on one side of the building, offering a place to chat quietly and enjoy a
breathtaking forest view for kilometers around. Just the view would lower blood
pressure and reduce the risk of patient or visitor violence against the
Weiss promised that no-smoking laws in the whole building will be
strictly enforced. Two of the floors will have balconies, and four will have
hanging gardens with cascading water.
There seems a good chance that HMO
will correct a miscalculation, pointed out by The Jerusalem Post during the
press tour: management completely omitted Arabiclanguage signs in the new
departments, even though they seemed to have thought of everything. This was
decided counter to health system-wide instructions issued a year ago by Health
Ministry Director-General Prof. Ronni Gamzu to promote “cultural
All signs, Gamzu stipulated, should be translated into the
languages of the people served and if at all possible into Hebrew and Arabic
(the two official state languages).
Arabic-speaking patients, visitors
and staffers should not have to ask a Hebrew speaker to find
“You raise an important issue... the fifth story is the pilot
floor, and we’ll learn from our experience and make any necessary changes. In
any case, the signs are up only there, so the rest can be done in three
languages,” Mor-Yosef says.
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. But if
you insist on a car, a 1,000-car private parking lot under the hospitalization
tower is an option for those who don’t want to take the free Hadassah bus from
the rather-distant open parking lots costing NIS 20 per day.
hospitalization tower constitutes a $363m. gift to the state, the government of
Israel has finally agreed to make a contribution.
Binyamin Netanyahu and his successors agreed to give NIS 169m. as a contribution
to the project when it is completed. 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
“Raising the funds for the project was certainly not easy. We
suffered from the Madoff [financial scandal] affair, but it is behind us. So we
can start a new era. In a few years, we may carry out a new campaign to
refurbish the old hospital for other uses. We have seen US and other Jewish
communities abroad turn inward.
They have a need to support their efforts
at home. The world is different than it was. But we can promise every donation
to Hadassah will reach its destination,” the HWZOA president
Although at least one of its “competitors” built extra floors
for future use when it constructed a new campus, HMO ws able to build just one
floor for such a purpose.
“We have not added any beds beyond what we
had,” said Weiss, “because the Health Ministry prohibited it due to Treasury
limitations.” It is not the bed itself that costs much, but the medical manpower
that each bed represents. No more beds have been approved for Jerusalem at this
time. But as the capital is the largest in the country and rapidly growing, what
will need to be done to expand the hospital tower will inevitably have to be