Hadassah-Ein Kerem hospital opens $363m. tower

New state-of-the-art building admits first patients today, old facility will be used for research.

A room in the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower 370 (photo credit: HMO)
A room in the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower 370
(photo credit: HMO)
After residing 61 years in a physical setting that increasingly became cramped, outdated and sometimes even unpleasant, the Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem is taking its first steps on Monday into a new era of comfort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.
The new 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.
For the 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 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.
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.
A large 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 freshness.
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.
Every 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 balcony.
No smoking will be allowed in the entire facility.
Despite the meticulous planning, The Jerusalem Post pointed out 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 out.
Natan said “today was the first time I noticed.”
Weiss said, “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 into it.”
But upon asking Mor-Yosef, who was not present, the Post was 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 director-general.
“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.