Part of the medical team of the Soroka Medical Center

Position at Soroka: Senior Physician, At the Intensive Care Unit , Soroka, Clalit Health Services Group Clalit Health Services Group

 (photo credit: SOROKA MEDICAL CENTER)

Prof. Yonat Shemer-Avni

Position at Soroka: Head of the Virology Laboratory, Soroka University Medical Center, Clalit Health Services Group 
Role during the COVID-19 pandemic: Head of the Israeli MOH Council for Regulation of Research into Biological Disease Agents

From Prof. Yonat Shemer-Avni’s perspective, Soroka’s greatest challenge in these challenging times was the urgent need to upgrade the laboratory from one that analyzed 6,275 cases of the coronavirus a month (as of January 2020) to one that analyzes 39,000 samples a month (as of July 2020).

She accomplished this feat by finding the necessary additional personnel, acquiring the needed equipment, and gradually increasing the capacity of the lab. She achieved this while ensuring that the environment remained worker-friendly and by constantly seeking faster methods of diagnosis, increasing testing volume, and maintaining a high level of working standards.

Dr. Lior Fuchs, MD

Position at Soroka: Senior Physician, At the Intensive Care Unit , Soroka, Clalit Health Services Group Clalit Health Services Group

Role during the Coronavirus Pandemic: Senior physician at the Coronavirus ICU .

Dr. Fuchs is a member of the intensive care physician community, whose members treat the sickest patients at every hospital. Most of his COVID-19 patients mainly suffer from lung collapse and multiorgan failure. Many require the most intensive care available, including artificial respiration under extreme conditions, hemodialysis, treatment with lung-heart bypass machines (ECMO), nitric oxide gas supplementation, and more.

The challenges facing the Intensive care physicians are immense. It is a daily battle  to keep every patient alive from one day to the other,  battling a disease with no known cure while the patients patients receive life-saving treatment without the comfort of being surrounded by their loved ones.

The medical teams are under intense physical and mental pressure. Treating patients is made difficult by the multi layers of protective clothing and equipment.

Despite these drawbacks they are doing all in their power to treat patients and make their ordeal as easy as possible. The doctors escort families to the bedsides and they ensure that they are as well protected as possible , and they use state state-of-the-art technologies to treat patients with the latest live saving life support medical devices as well as diagnosing patients while in bed.

But despite all the difficulties Dr Fuchs and his team are encouraged by the fact that that they are fighting a battle they will eventually win.

Prof. Nimrod Maimon, MD

Position at Soroka: Director of the Department of Internal Medicine B at Soroka, Clalit Health Services Group. Specializes in internal medicine and lung diseases.

Role during the COVID-19 pandemic: Director of the Ministry of Health’s Magen Avot v’Imahot (Fathers and Mothers Shield) national program, which provides solutions for the COVID-19 crisis at retirement homes, nursing homes, sheltered housing, and homes for debilitated elderly people

The coronavirus mainly affects the elderly. Prof. Nimrod Maimon says that as a country, we must protect older people, who are more liable to be infected by COVID-19, by ensuring that the measures to maintain social distancing are respected.

Elderly people who are isolated from society and normal daily activities are much more negatively affected by the coronavirus than young people. Therefore, the main challenge is to create a balance between the need to protect the elderly population from infection and the need to maintain some kind of normal routine.

As the director of the Magen Avot v’Imahot program, Maimon is responsible for more than 1,000 sheltered housing complexes and retirement homes which are inhabited by more than 70,000 elderly people. Protecting the elderly from the coronavirus not only reduces mortality rates in this sector of the population but also contributes significantly to national resilience in coping with the pandemic.

Dr. Lior Nesher, MD

Position at Soroka: Specialist in infectious disease and internal medicine. Head of Antibiotic Stewardship Service at Soroka, Clalit Health Services Group

Role during the COVID-19 pandemic: Infectious disease senior advisor/coordinator

Dr. Lior Nesher’s greatest challenge has been to provide high-quality health care to COVID-19 patients while continuing to provide optimal care to all other patients. He emphasizes that as Soroka is the only medical center in the Negev, it must maintain its ability to provide medical care no matter what, and COVID-19 has impacted every single service at the hospital.

Nesher’s contribution since the outbreak of the coronavirus has been to keep the staff and the patients safe and to prevent hospital-acquired infections from harming staff and patients, as well as treating COVID-19 patients. All this was achieved while the entire way in which medicine is practiced at Soroka has changed due to COVID-19.  Nesher provided the guidance and advice, as well as the necessary expertise to operate all aspects of the hospital’s activities, while providing the most advanced, state-of-the-art care to coronavirus patients.

Prof. Victor Novack, MD, PhD

Position at Soroka: Head of the Research Authority and Clinical Research Center

Role during the COVID-19 pandemic: Director of the COVID-19 Department at Soroka, Clalit Health Services Group

Senior Researcher, Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care, and Pain Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, USA

 Prof. Victor Novack says that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused Soroka to rethink the very way it practices contemporary medicine. Clinicians are using the tremendous opportunity opened up by the coronavirus pandemic to introduce new, exciting technologies and are reaffirming the human side of the patient–doctor relationship. In these challenging days, their role as providers of compassionate care and not mere “health technicians” is once again taking center stage.

Novack and his department are at the forefront of the ongoing battle against the coronavirus and are there to minister to the communities serviced by Soroka and Israel as a whole.

Dr. Dan Schwarzfuchs, MD

Position at Soroka: Deputy director general of Soroka Medical Center, Clalit Health Services Group

Head of Internal Medicine Unit, Department of Emergency Medicine (ED)

Role during the COVID-19 pandemic: To coordinate the care of patients in the ED with suspected or confirmed COVID-19

Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, Soroka’s Emergency Departrment, which is the busiest in Israel, has faced the challenge of simultaneously treating patients suspected of suffering from COVID-19 and patients with confirmed COVID-19, in addition to patients with other medical emergencies. The department responded to the rapidly changing situation with innovative strategies and was the first in Israel to introduce separate, isolated complexes within the ED for each group of patients. Every patient and visitor who is escorting a patient may be a potential source of infection for other patients and medical staff, so the department strives to minimize contact among patients. Members of the medical staff wear protective equipment at all times and have done so since the beginning of the pandemic. As a result, none of the medical staff have been infected, and no patient or visitor has been infected during the time he or she spent in the ED.

The ED is at the forefront of the COVID-19 pandemic. There, everyone must be treated, accurate diagnoses must be provided, and patients and caregivers must be protected without compromising the quality of care. After six months of hard work, Soroka is proud to say that its professional ED team has upheld the hospital’s excellent standards while providing optimal care for COVID-19 patients.


 This article was written in cooperation with Soroka.