Putting the hotel into the hospital

The first inpatient department has moved into the luxury tower that will replace Hadassah University Medical Center’s Ein Kerem.

By
March 24, 2012 23:36
The new tower in Hadassah Hospital.

New tower in Hadassah Hospital 370. (photo credit: Judy Siegel-Itzkovich)

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.

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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.

How times 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.

Last week, 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 now.

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.

The 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 money.

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.

Pump-bottle 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.

Intensive care units will have four beds each and round-the-clock nurses’ supervision.

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.

There are 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 fuel.

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 staff.

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 competency.”

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 something.

“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.

As the hospitalization tower constitutes a $363m. gift to the state, the government of Israel has finally agreed to make a contribution.

Then-finance minister 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 fields.”

“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 pledges.

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 discussed.


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