ALYN Hospital prevails through pandemic challenges to save disabled youth

Friends of ALYN Hospital adapted to this year's challenge by establishing the #MyALYNRide cycling campaign to encourage riders globally to help raise funds for the hospital.

Dr Eliezer Be'eri with a child on a respirator. (photo credit: ALYN PEDIATRIC AND ADOLESCENT REHABILITATION CENTER)
Dr Eliezer Be'eri with a child on a respirator.
(photo credit: ALYN PEDIATRIC AND ADOLESCENT REHABILITATION CENTER)
Prevailing through the ever changing challenges created by the coronavirus, ALYN Hospital Pediatric and Adolescent Rehabilitation Center has adapted its annual Wheels of Love charity bike ride. The hospital has also had to quickly adapt to help protect the vulnerable children being treated in its facility during the pandemic.
Riders have flown to Israel for the charity annual charity event which has taken place for more than twenty years in order to raise funds for the comprehensive rehabilitation center for physically challenged and disabled children, adolescents and young adults. 
Last year, the charity bike ride raised close to $3 million to be used in the on-going budget of Israel’s only pediatric rehabilitation hospital in Israel.
This year however, the coronavirus has made it impossible for riders from the US to travel to Israel in order to participate in the five day cycling event. This led to efforts by Friends of ALYN Hospital to adapt this year's challenge by establishing the #MyALYNRide campaign.
“We chose the Berkshires as many of us ride their often and are familiar with the routes and the terrain and elevations. While there will be riders of varying levels. We believe it will be challenging yet accessible to all levels of our rider constituency. Some of us will be out there the weekend before the ride equipped with Day-glow spray paint and Arrow stencils to mark the routes," said Brian Gertenberg (ALYN)“We chose the Berkshires as many of us ride their often and are familiar with the routes and the terrain and elevations. While there will be riders of varying levels. We believe it will be challenging yet accessible to all levels of our rider constituency. Some of us will be out there the weekend before the ride equipped with Day-glow spray paint and Arrow stencils to mark the routes," said Brian Gertenberg (ALYN)
The campaign encourages participants to create personal challenges that can be completed from home and in their communities, while continuing to fundraise to benefit ALYN Hospital with participants committed to riding hundreds of miles.

This year, more than 150 riders from all around the US will be taking to their bikes.
Bryan Gartenberg from the Upper East Side, Manhattan will be joined by other members of his team the “Grumpy Roadsters”. Last year  twenty members from the Manhattan group flew to Israel to join the ride. This year they are headed out to the Berkshires on October 18 for a two-day ride of 100 miles with hopes to exceed their $300,000 contribution that they made last year. 

“Anyone can ride a bike wherever and whenever they want, but the principal reason for our team to cycle the #MyALYN Ride is to raise money for the inspirational staff, doctors and children of ALYN Hospital," said veteran "Grumpy" Ed Joyce.
The donations collected in the Wheels of Love charity bike ride and the #My ALYN Ride campaign help bridge the gap between the hospital's actual expenditure, the quality multidisciplinary rehabilitation treatment it provides, and the reimbursement of the regular official payment received for each hospitalized child.
The hospital has been under financial stress due to the increased costs incurred during the pandemic, and the fact that "fundraising is significantly down everywhere given the worldwide economic impact from the ongoing pandemic," said Joyce. 
ALYN Hospital, as a non-profit organization that does not receive government support. Instead it receives reimbursement from the referral agencies according to a uniform rate for the patient. This is not enough to cover the true cost of the comprehensive treatment. The means the hospital must rely on donations that bridge the gap between the fixed financing rates and the cost of multidisciplinary services actually received by the children. 
“COVID-19 has impacted everyone, and yet our ALYN community has remained engaged and committed”, said Executive Director of American Friends of ALYN Hospital Maayan Aviv. 
“The purposeful support of our donors and volunteers has been both unexpected as well as validating. Fundraising is challenging every year, and this year even more so, and yet they have embraced the cause with passion. We are filled with gratitude for their endeavors.”
Donors feeling financial effects from the coronavirus are finding it harder to donate this year. Moreover, with the pandemic comes "an overwhelming fundraising need for many worthy organizations which creates a greater scarcity of available charitable funds for ALYN," said Dan Blumenthal who because of these challenges has committed to cycling over 700 miles to help raise funds. 
“The money we raise every year meets the usual budget shortfall but it is even more imperative that funds are raised that will help cover the additional monies expended this year due to the Covid-19," said Joanne Blye, President of the Board of Friends for ALYN Hospital.
"In essence this was never really about the ride but about a means to raise money for desperately ill children to help them lead the best possible lives."
In addition to being Israel's only pediatric rehabilitation hospital, it is a world leader in the same field treating children with a wide range of physical disabilities. The hospital treats children ranging from all sectors of Israeli and Palestinian society in addition to treating children from all over the world.
This year's bike ride charity isn't the only way in which the hospital has had to adapt. The hospital understood that children with respiratory complications at the hospital are among the most vulnerable demographic during the pandemic and that were one of the patients to contract the virus the situation would be life threatening. 
The veteran medical and nursing staff worked quickly to develop an array of new protocols to prevent the introduction and spread of coronavirus at the hospital.
In a matter of days, the hospital built an entirely new wing in which to house the three departments of high-risk patients, including the Respiratory Rehabilitation Department, with restricted entrance only.
The endeavor took days of planning and major effort, requiring expertise from all fields. New infrastructures were laid out, offices relocated, advanced monitoring systems installed, and two negative-pressure isolation rooms were created. Construction was done both inside and outside the hospital. Even the elevators had to be reprogrammed.