2017-10-11 / Voice at the Shore

Hadassah’s new life-saving technologies—and women’s health coalition—offer worldwide benefits

By ELLEN WEISMAN STRENGER
Voice shore editor


Shaloma Hadassah president Tammy Spanier (left) listens to a report by Hadassah liaison Cherie Finkelstein at Shaloma’s New Member Tea last month. Shaloma Hadassah president Tammy Spanier (left) listens to a report by Hadassah liaison Cherie Finkelstein at Shaloma’s New Member Tea last month. Why be part of Hadassah? So many reasons, said Cherie Finkelstein, Hadassah’s liaison to the local area, who spoke at a New Member Tea held by Shaloma Hadassah last month at the home of Ellen Lichenstein in Margate.

Not only do local Hadassah members make a difference in Israel, they also make a difference here in the United States and worldwide, said Finkelstein. “The money you send to Israel comes back here because Hadassah [medical] technology goes global,” she stressed.

Hadassah is also a leader in women’s health, she added. The organization that began in 1913 with Henrietta Szold, an American Jewish woman who brought emergency medical care to Jewish mothers and infants living in camps in Palestine, has recently partnered with numerous healthcare and women’s organizations in the United States to form the Coalition for Women’s Health Equity, which aims to improve women’s health in the United States, Israel, and beyond.

Finkelstein reported to Shaloma Hadassah members on many of the organization’s cutting edge medical treatments and technologies. Among those are vaccinations for late stage melanoma, a dangerous form of skin cancer that can fatally spread to other parts of the body.

Vaccinations developed by the Hadassah Medical Organization for Stage 3 and 4 melanoma patients have successfully treated these patients by using actual tumor cells to strengthen patients’ immune systems, she said. Hadassah is also using this treatment approach for other forms of cancer, including cancer of the colon, prostate, ovary, lung and kidney.

“This treatment comes out from Hadassah to the rest of the world!” said Finkelstein.

Some other life-changing Hadassah technologies include an anti-gravity machine that allows people with lower-body injuries to stand after surgery (this technology will soon go global, she noted); a new, more effective design for feeding tubes that’s currently in clinical trials; and cutting-edge treatments for macular degeneration, infertility, and much more, said Finkelstein.

Through amazing work like this, “Hadassah hospitals give us reason to be proud of Israel,” she stressed.

Hadassah is also a huge advocate for women’s health, she noted. In 2016, Hadassah launched the Coalition for Women’s Health Equity, which seeks to address inequities in the quality and funding of women’s health care research and delivery. This summer, the Coalition held its inaugural Women’s Health Empowerment Summit in Washington, D.C., an event that brought together women’s health champions and policy makers.

The 20+ members of the Coalition for Women’s Health Equity include the American Association for University Women; the American Heart Association; the Black Women’s Health Imperative; the National Organization for Women; National Women’s Law Center; Planned Parenthood Federation of America; the American Alliance on Aging; and many other health care and women’s organizations.

“This new collaborative effort amplifies our collective impact,” said Hadassah National President Ellen Hershkin at the time the collaborative was announced, “combining the strength of Hadassah’s 330,000 members, associates and supporters with the heightened power of women’s voices from around the country.”

“For over a century, Hadassah—in the U.S. and Israel—has advocated for as well as provided, the highest quality healthcare for women,” she added. “Hadassah is thrilled to partner with such influential organizations that have long-standing reputations of expertise and service in women’s issues. By engaging in direct advocacy, grassroots mobilization and the sharing of resources, the Coalition will make a lasting and powerful difference for women’s health equity.”

Why is this needed? For one thing, said Finkelstein, a lot of health research has been conducted on 180-pound men, with the results being universally applied. This needs to change, given that men and women often present with different symptoms for the same diseases and react differently to drugs and treatments.

Finkelstein encouraged Shaloma Hadassah members who visit Israel to contact the Hadassah office and ask to take a tour of Hadassah’s medical centers. “They would be glad to take you on a tour,” she said.

“In these times of anti- Semitism, we should be proud of what we, as strong Jewish women, can do,” she told those attending the Hadassah New Member Tea.

Finkelstein also encouraged local Hadassah women to attend regional activities, such as the upcoming Myrtle Wreath luncheon in Monroe Township on October 29, which will honor Joanne Waldstreitcher, M.D., chief medical officer of Johnson & Johnson, as well as members of various regional Hadassah chapters.

Locally, Shaloma Hadassah will be raising funds for the organization with “Give-Back Tuesday” at the Outback restaurant in Egg Harbor Township on October 24, from 5-9 p.m. By presenting the restaurant with Shaloma Hadassah’s “Give-Back Tuesday” flyer, diners can donate a portion of their bill to Hadassah. To obtain a flyer, contact Eve Rose at (609) 822- 0024. 

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