Revolutionizing medical practice in Israel's northern periphery

  (photo credit: Eitan Kushnir - Spokesperson Zefat Academic College)
(photo credit: Eitan Kushnir - Spokesperson Zefat Academic College)

Though Israel’s healthcare system is similar to that of other industrialized western countries and is based on universal insurance coverage, significant regional differences in access to and quality of healthcare persist. Northern Israel’s two million residents are medically underserved compared to their peers living in the center of the country. The population is predominately rural, and the disparities in medical services are reflected in health indicators for the northern population, including higher infant mortality rates, lower life expectancy, and higher rates of infectious disease. The North is 6,000 healthcare professionals short of matching the standard of healthcare systems in the center of the country.

In this unprecedented environment of simultaneous health, economic, and political challenges, Zefat Academic College (ZAC) offers world-class instruction in cutting-edge scientific and technological fields. The College is gaining a reputation as offering some of the best allied health programs in Israel and is executing a deliberate strategy to focus on allied health careers, as these meet both the socio-economic and the health needs of the North.

 Sandor Frankel (credit: Trustee, Helmsley Charitable Trust) Sandor Frankel (credit: Trustee, Helmsley Charitable Trust)

In 2019, The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust recognized the need to improve access to better healthcare for all Israelis, including those who live in the periphery by establishing a medical simulation and training center on ZAC’s campus. Sandor Frankel, a Trustee of the Helmsley Charitable Trust, said: "More widely available simulation training will lead to safer treatments and better medical outcomes for everyone in Israel’s north." The Trust contributed $2.2 million to the College for the electronic infrastructure of a simulation training center then being planned for the College’s students. In 2021, the Helmsley Charitable Trust extended its involvement with ZAC with an additional contribution of $4.1 million towards the purchase of state-of-the-art medical simulation systems, mannequins, and other equipment designed to train, evaluate, and improve the performance of the College's own students as well as of medical professionals in routine and emergency situations.

The Helmsley Institute for Advanced Health Training & Education will soon be a magnet for other regional institutions, as well. The Ministry of Health, Israel’s Medical Association, the medical corps of the IDF, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services, all of Israel’s northern periphery hospitals, HMO’s, nursing schools, Magen David Adom (Israel’s national ambulance service), and various other organizations have expressed interest in using the Institute’s training facilities. ZAC also expects that the Helmsley Institute will be authorized to conduct mandatory courses and regulatory licensing exams in various clinical fields.

The Helmsley Institute will provide a virtual healthcare environment with rooms that can be transformed to provide training in almost any healthcare situation, including simulated clinical examination rooms, hospitalization rooms, Emergency Departments, Intensive Care Units, and mass casualty events.

Highly trained medical professionals will be ready to meet the needs of patients in times of normal operation and under emergency conditions. Improved cooperation between medical professionals in northern Israel will increased patient safety by reducing errors made during treatment.

ZAC's Helmsley Institute will significantly expand the scope of its regional impact:

  • The College will supply more extraordinarily well-trained graduates in fields suffering from acute shortages of practitioners.
  • Increased technological capacity will revolutionize higher education in the northern periphery. Students and professionals in the North will have access to a facility that matches the quality and content of academic and healthcare institutions in other areas of Israel.
  • The region will benefit immensely from the improved campus facilities. Healthcare organizations in the North will have access to cutting-edge technology. ZAC's healthcare-related teaching and training facilities, science labs, and the Helmsley Institute will have a high quality impact on practitioners in the field.
  • Enhanced programming and facilities will strengthen the ZAC’s reputation and will bring more students to the Galilee, many of whom will stay and make their home in the region.

  (credit:  Yoni Lubliner) (credit: Yoni Lubliner)

Prof. Aharon Kellerman, President of ZAC, addressed this exciting development: "The Institute that bears Helmsley’s name will become synonymous with world-class training for healthcare professionals in Israel. It will place Zefat Academic College at the forefront of the higher education and training of healthcare students and professionals."

For more information: Zefat Academic College 

This article was written in cooperation with Zefat Academic College