Coronavirus: Now is the time to send Israeli medical teams to New York

Israel’s medical forces are primed and ready, possess the expertise and are currently available to treat a much larger scope of ill patients than is likely at the immediate time.

Ichilov director-general Ronni Gamzu. (photo credit: MIRI GATTENYO/ICHILOV SPOKESPERSON'S OFFICE)
Ichilov director-general Ronni Gamzu.
(photo credit: MIRI GATTENYO/ICHILOV SPOKESPERSON'S OFFICE)
Israel has been working wisely thus far in combating the coronavirus crisis, and has used all possible tools to reduce the spread of the virus, including closing borders, placing people arriving from abroad in isolation, social distancing and extensive testing, as well as preparing the health system for very serious scenarios.
The government has acted correctly and quickly, using an approach that slowed the rate of infection and contained the pandemic in hospitals, achieving reasonable medical results. We are not yet near the conclusion of this crisis, but rather, at its peak. However, alongside our strategy to put the pandemic behind us and help the economy recover, Israel now has an additional challenge: to assist other areas where the crisis is crashing health systems – and first and foremost New York City, one of Israel’s closest friends and allies.
Israel’s medical forces are primed and ready, possess the expertise and are currently available to treat a much larger scope of ill patients than is likely at the immediate time. Today, for its close partner countries that are experiencing chaos due to this medical crisis, Israel can provide a skilled medical reinforcement team – and this can be accomplished without harming our fitness and preparedness at home. This is our duty.
The United States is Israel's strongest ally, our pillar of support and defense, which always strives to help Israel in times of emergency and hardship. Today, New York City is in dire straits; its healthcare system is unable to cope with the current volume of patients as well as the additional patients who will further burden the system in the coming days, threatening to collapse it.
The cause of the looming crash stems from both inadequate preparations and the medical service structure in NYC, that is not aligned for such a pandemic. At this point in time, Israel has the ability and capacity to help. In fact, Israel has not just the capability, but also the moral obligation to help.
We have stepped in to help in the past when disasters have struck distant countries. We have always been the first to arrive on site and to mobilize for ultimate lifesaving missions. Marshaling our resources to support New York City is our compassionate responsibility and national duty, but it is also a great privilege of the Israeli healthcare system, which for years has been working closely with its colleagues in the New York healthcare system.
The decision to support New York City in this way is not straightforward; it comes with certain speculation regarding the State of Israel's medical resilience. At the same time, I believe that at this critical time, a measured level of support would be the right and safe decision, which will express our commitment to our great national ally.

The author is the director general of Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center (Ichilov) and formerly the director general of the Israeli Health Ministry and the chairman of the Health Basket Committee.