Hospice seeks support after losing property to Hizbullah rocket

Before it was hit, the house was worth about $240,000, but now is severely damaged.

nahariya damage 298 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
nahariya damage 298
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
A Metulla building that the outpatient Hospice of the Upper Galilee (HUG) in Rosh Pina wanted to sell to help build an inpatient hospice took a direct hit by a Hizbullah rocket during the war. The voluntary facility, which offers medical and psychological care in the homes of 45 terminally ill patients aged 40 through 80, is the only non-profit home hospice in the country and the only institution that offers hospice care north of Haifa. HUG Director Jim Shalom, who was in Canada during the war, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that the house had been bequeathed to the organization by Dr. Nancy Caroline, a highly unconventional physician and author who helped pioneer paramedics, palliative medicine and cardiopulmonary resuscitation in Israel and died of cancer in 2002 after being under the devoted care of the hospice staff. Before it was hit, the house was worth about $240,000, but now is severely damaged. "It had to be boarded up, and it will now be impossible to sell," said Shalom. The American Friends of Magen David Adom (AFMDA), the US-based fundraising wing of Israel's emergency and disaster relief organization, "recognized the vital necessity of ensuring that the hospice receive support to survive this tough period of time." Since it does not receive payments from its patients, it relies on some support from the Health Ministry and the gifts of generous donors. AFMDA has pledged $75,000 annually for the next three years to help rebuild the hospice. "It would be a terrible shame if it had to close its doors," said Danny Allen, executive vice president of AFMDA. "We are fortunate to be in a position to support this invaluable facility as it struggles to stay open." During the rocket attacks on Rosh Pina and the rest of the North, most of the terminally ill patients were evacuated from their homes and taken to relatives' homes out of danger. Others remained in underground bomb shelters near their homes. As the sirens wailed, the nurses continued to travel from shelter to shelter without a care for their own safety. "Terminally ill patients need very special care under normal conditions," Shalom continued, "but this experience caused an added level of terror to our patients‚ worries. The nurses really rose to the occasion; they made sure that the appropriate care continued for the patients and made them feel as comfortable as possible." HUG patients come from all over Israel and from all types of communities, including small towns and villages, cities and the kibbutzim and moshavim; HUG does not make distinctions in treating anyone, whatever their religion or ethnic group. Shalom (jshalom@nc-hug.org) said some patients who were too ill to go south had to stay in Safed's Ziv Hospital, and at least one died there. "We were in contact with patients and families, who were given instructions on how to care for them, and medical reports were prepared for doctors taking care of them further south," said Shalom. HUG's staff of doctors and nurses, a social worker, psychologist, music thanatologist, art therapist and volunteers had their own problems: The head nurse, Yael Blaich, has a son who was fighting in Lebanon, and she herself was mobilized to the makeshift emergency clinic set up in Kiryat Shmona for the victims of rocket attacks. Homes of three of HUG's nurses were destroyed by rockets, but they continued to care for their patients. The Rosh Pina house of the hospice's chairman was also hit.