'Emotional wounds of war may persist in hospital workers'

Haifa study: 9 out of 10 medical staffers developed at least 1 stress symptom during 2nd Lebanon War.

Hospital 88,248 GENERIC good image (photo credit: )
Hospital 88,248 GENERIC good image
(photo credit: )
Nine out of 10 medical staffers at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa developed at least one symptom of stress during the Second Lebanon War in 2006, hinting at the possible effect of Gaza rockets on doctors and nurses in the South during the present confrontation. A study on the need to treat medical professionals for psychological stress during war was just published in the Journal Depression and Anxiety by Prof. Ehud Klein, chief of psychiatry at Rambam, along with colleagues at the hospital and the University of Haifa's psychology department. Barzilai Medical Center, which is the hospital closest to the front and itself rocket target, is holding workshops for its doctors and nurses to relieve their stress and try to prevent the onset of post-traumatic stress syndrome. The Haifa researchers found that due to intervention, only a tenth of the 450 Rambam doctors and nurses developed long-term symptoms that interfered with their ability to function. During the Second Lebanon War, Rambam staffers treated 450 wounded soldiers and civilians, and another 350 with serious anxiety and other psychological symptoms. Some 45 Hizbullah missiles fell in 2006 within a 500-meter radius of Rambam. The researchers suggested that the collective nature of the trauma and the teamwork of the staff minimized the long-term emotional harm to employees. Meanwhile, the pediatric and adolescent anxiety clinic at Sieff Hospital in Safed reported on Wednesday a 30 percent increase in anxiety sufferers reaching the hospital as a direct result of the rocket attacks on the South. Dr. Ma'ayan Ziskind Lev-El, head of the clinic, said that not only do the scenes of the cities, towns and settlements in the South unnerve the youngsters, but they also fear a return of shelling on the north. She recommended sports and even just walks to minimize the release of adrenalin and other hormones produced in reaction to stress; exercise also improves mood and raises energy levels, she said. The Health Ministry said that southern residents may take their children up to the age of five to tipat halav (family health) centers anywhere in the country for vaccines and checkups, rather than just the center where they are registered. In addition, pregnant women or women after delivery may visit any tipat halav station during the current emergency. Clalit Health Services is offering free emergency psychological help to all residents of the South. Psychiatrists, psychologists and other professionals are on duty at health fund clinics around the country. Since the Gaza operation started, more than 20 babies whose parents live in the South but are staying with friends and relatives out of rocket range have been born at Assaf Harofeh Medical Center in Tzrifin. The Kav Or voluntary organization that provides free computer services to children in pediatric wards and sick children in their homes has invited youngsters in the South to get into its Web site at www.kavor.org.il without a password. The aim is to enable children in protected rooms and shelters to enjoy the educational and entertainment content of the site. Children can contact riki@kavor.org.il or eti@kavor.org.il.