2016-11-09 / Voice at the Shore

Hadassah president gets tours of Jerusalem hospitals

By ELLEN WEISMAN STRENGER
Voice shore editor


Shaloma Hadassah co-president Tammy Spanier at Hadassah’s Ein Kerem Hospital, in front of the iconic stained-glass windows donated to the hospital by artist Marc Chagall. The windows, installed in the medical center’s Abbell Synagogue in 1962, depict the twelve tribes of Israel. Shaloma Hadassah co-president Tammy Spanier at Hadassah’s Ein Kerem Hospital, in front of the iconic stained-glass windows donated to the hospital by artist Marc Chagall. The windows, installed in the medical center’s Abbell Synagogue in 1962, depict the twelve tribes of Israel. Shimon Peres once said, “No institution models a place of peace under the most demanding circumstances more than Hadassah.”

Speaking at a Shaloma Hadassah meeting in Margate last month on the eve of Peres’ death, Tammy Spanier, Shaloma’s co-president, recalled Peres’ creative approach to problem solving, saying that Hadassah has modeled this same creative approach to wondrous effect—an effect she saw in-person while touring Hadassah’s Jerusalem hospitals this summer. The Nobel-prize winning medical organization, begun before Israel’s founding to care for mothers and infants, now has two state-of-the-art hospitals doing cutting-edge research on cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s, cardiovascular disease, traumatic injuries and much more.

Spanier made a point of arranging a tour of Hadassah’s hospitals during her three-week visit to Israel. Once Hadassah officials learned that she was a Hadassah co-president, said Spanier, she was given the “VIP tour,” complete with her own personal tour guide.

“It was not at all what I expected,” said Spanier of her tour. “I was blown away!”

She first toured Hadassah Mount Scopus, a 300-bed community hospital built in 1949, which serves a large Arab population due to its proximity to the West Bank. “The hospital opens its doors to everyone, giving everyone top notch health care,” said Spanier, who also noted that the facility had many Arab doctors. Next, she toured Hadassah Ein Kerem, a larger and newer tertiary care facility, where she was especially excited to see the recently completed Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower. The 20-story tower has been a longtime fundraising focus for Shaloma Hadassah and other Hadassah chapters worldwide.

“I’d always heard about this tower and finally got to see it. It’s massive,” exclaimed Spanier.

“A lot of people in South Jersey have donated a lot of money [towards this tower] and have their names on rooms,” noted Shaloma Hadassah vice president Eve Rose, who attended Spanier’s talk. Another attendee recalled seeing a huge hole in the ground for the tower on a visit to Jerusalem eight years ago. “At that point, they didn’t know if they’d have funds to complete it,” she said.

Especially impressive to Spanier were the tower’s five below-ground floors that are fortified against conventional, biological or chemical attacks. This underground area houses 13 newly opened extra-large operating rooms with stainless steel walls that enhance sterility, special lighting, and ultra-high-tech equipment.

She also toured the tower’s four “really lovely” healing gardens, which offer a place of respite and solace to families and caregivers, as well as the tower’s patient rooms.

“All have a beautiful view of the Judean Hills,” said Spanier, noting that the tower’s windowless inner rooms served as workrooms for medical staff. The patient rooms are all equipped with a chair that converts into a bed for family members and advanced monitoring and imaging equipment, as well as personal conveniences such as a Shabbat light, a private bath and an entertainment system. “They are trying to accommodate the whole person, all of their needs,” Spanier explained.

Spanier also toured Ein Kerem’s Mother and Child Pavilion, which has a lobby decorated with colored lights and a miniature train running around the room to keep children entertained. This pavilion, she learned, is where “medical clowns” first debuted. These specially trained clowns work hand-in-hand with doctors and medical staff to help communicate and give care to sick and frightened children. According to Spanier, the University of Haifa now offers a degree in medical clowning, thanks to the success of these clowns at Hadassah’s hospitals.

Hadassah’s mission, as Spanier reminded attendees at the Shaloma meeting, includes healing, teaching and research. The hospitals see more than a million patients a year, she noted, and serve as teaching hospitals for Hebrew University students seeking to become doctors, nurses, and other allied health professionals. The Hadassah Medical Organization also carried out more than half of the medical research in Israel—research that originates in Israel but benefits the entire world. “This is what we are supporting,” said Spanier.

This year, Shaloma Hadassah aims to raise $7,000 to support this mission.

“After seeing what they do, I feel a renewed sense of commitment,” said Spanier. 

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