Canadian Hadassah-WIZO (CHW)
Each year, Forbes Israel carefully compiles its Best Doctors in Israel shortlist, usually selected based on exceptional medical achievements. But this year, it was clear that the honour belonged to doctors at the forefront of the battle against the Coronavirus pandemic.
Three courageous medical leaders have made this year’s cover, amongst them, Professor Sigal Sviri, Head of Hadassah Hospital’s COVID-19 Outbreak Intensive Care Unit. Together with her counterparts, Professor Galia Rahav, Head of the Corona Department at Sheba Medical Centre and Professor Idit Matot, Head of the Coronavirus Unit at Ichilov Medical Centre, it’s safe to say that Israelis are in good hands.
As the longstanding Director of Hadassah Ein Kerem’s Medical Intensive Care Unit, Professor Sviri is used to treating patients with the most complex medical problems. But, since the pandemic emerged, Professor Sviri relays:
“We haven’t had a break for even one day. Our work is around the clock- treating only the most critically ill patients. We don’t see an end in sight. This period has been extremely fascinating, but also challenging. We are completely focused on trying to save as many patients as possible- day and night. We have tremendous drive and ambition to fight for every patient and for every respirator.”
Although Israel managed to ‘flatten the curve’ of COVID-19 infections at the onset of the pandemic, a second wave has emerged since lockdown and social distancing measures were eased in mid-May. COVID-19 wards in hospitals are once again filling up with infected patients and pushing capacity. Professor Sviri shares:
“There is a dire shortage of intensive care beds. Infrastructure and staff are the most important right now. It’s great that advanced medical technologies and innovative treatment methods are being developed, but without it going hand in hand with a system that will support patients when they need urgent and immediate treatment – it’s not worth anything. The low mortality rates are largely due to our highly skilled and professional staff but we have a severe shortage of them at the moment.”
Professor Sviri is also looking ahead and gearing up for the winter and flu season, when a third wave of infections may cause even greater stress on the healthcare system. She is taking every precaution and preparing her teams.
“The pandemic changed the way we perceive life and instilled in us a new sense of modesty- as this tiny little virus caught all of humanity, completely off guard.”
“Angles in White” were the words Israel’s Minister of Health, Yuli Edelstein, used to describe the dedicated medical team he met at Shamir Medical Centre (Assah Harofeh’s) Coronavirus Unit.
As Israel continues to grapple with a second wave of COVID-19 cases, officials reached out to the hospital for insights and access to the critical work being done on the frontlines.
“Nothing is as effective as seeing it for yourself,” explains Dr. Osnat Levtzion-Korach, Director General of Shamir Medical Centre, who led the minister through a number of departments, including The Emergency Ward, one of Israel’s busiest, due to the large catchment area the hospital serves.
As the number of hospitalized COOVID-19 patients continues to rise, Dr. Levtzion-Korach shares how important the visit was for understanding the challenges faced by frontline workers:
“Even at the first stage of personal protection, it all seems simple. You put on a mask, you wear a gown and you go in. But once you do it yourself, you begin to understand how complex, uncomfortable, and hot it is. We were only walking around the unit, not even treating patients, or washing or lifting them. Only once you’ve experienced it, can you begin to understand how the whole issue of protection is not a trivial matter at all.”
The Minister spent time speaking to patients in the ward, who were relatively younger- in their 40s, 50s and 60s. One patient, a young professional engineer, shared; “I came back from the dead.” He battled the virus for weeks in hospital and thanked the medical team for helping him pull through.
Reflecting on his visit, the Minister shared:
“Today, for the first time, I myself entered the Coronavirus Ward at Shamir Medical Centre- of course, armed with the best protective equipment possible. It was not an easy experience. It felt terribly hot and humid inside the overalls. I only experienced it for one hour of one day. Imagine what the doctors and nurses who work 24/7 in the Corona Wards must feel. Israel’s medical professionals are truly incredible.”
Photo Credit: Itzik Biron
Daniel Shechter was on the last El Al emergency evacuation flight from Mumbai to Tel Aviv. Rather than ride out the pandemic abroad, Shechter made the difficult decision to return home while international travel was still a viable option.
Unlike thousands of other young Israelis, commonly found on what’s referred to as India’s ‘Hummus Trail,’ because of the sheer number of Israeli tourists, Shechter spent the last 7 years out of his home in Mumbai.
Since graduating from The Photographic Communications Department at Hadassah Academic College, his career took off as a sought-after photographer in the international culinary scene. Yet, it was a chance meeting, while a student at Le Codon Bleu in Paris, that Shechter met a friend from India who would change the course of his career. His friend, a famous Indian Chef, invited him to Mumbai to help launch a new chain of French bakery cafés.
“Of all the places in the world, I never imagined I would end up in India! I’m glad my destiny brought me here, it’s a fascinating place.”
Since the move to India, Shechter’s work expanded to include photography and food styling for top lifestyle brands and leading international chefs. He also collaborated on a number of projects, including an ‘insider’s’ travel guide to Mumbai and a popular food photography workshop.
But, like thousands of Israelis scattered around the world, Shechter had just a few days to pack up and sell all of his belongings. The sudden move back to Israel was jarring-even for a serial entrepreneur who was used to chaos and uncertainty. With so many landmark restaurants and top notch chefs struggling to stay afloat, pivoting and adjusting his business model was no easy feat.
Now based out of his Jaffa studio, it’s clear that Shechter used his creativity and practical skills, honed as a student, to forge ahead.
“As someone who lives and breathes art and design, I take inspiration from a variety of sources. With a background in French patisserie, I have a deep understanding of food photography and the highest attention to details, so crucial for precise visual outcomes.”
One only needs to sneak a peek at the July cover of Israel fashion and lifestyle publication, La Isha Chef Magazine, to fully appreciate his talent.
So, until the skies re-open, Shechter will continue exploring Israel’s culinary scene and bringing a taste of India to a devoted fan base in Israel.
For more of Schechter’s exquisite works, follow @shechter on Instagram.
It’s been a record-breaking year for births at Hadassah Hospital, with more than 14,000 babies born- including 263 pairs of twins and 7 sets of triplets!
Yet, this week, another record was broken when a mother gave birth to her 16th child. (The previous highest number of births per person was 15.)
Women in Israel continue to lead the Western world in the highest number of births per person, with an average rate of three or more children. Israel also boasts one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world, standing at approximately 3 out of 1,000 births.
Hadassah Hospital’s commitment to pre-natal and maternity care has played an important role in Israel’s dedication to maternal and infant health.
Shortly after giving birth, the proud mother shared a beautiful photo of her newborn daughter and this heartfelt message:
“I didn’t believe I would bring another sweet baby into the world, but when it happened, I was overwhelmed with joy!
Our little daughter joins another 15 brothers and sisters! The oldest sibling is 26, the youngest is three and a half and in the middle we have a set of twins! We have a huge and loving family, including grandchildren, that is already waiting for her at home.
The pregnancy was not easy which is why we chose to give birth at Hadassah. We knew we would have the most professional team care for us, which made me feel much more secure.
Sure enough, when the time came to give birth, we were surrounded by the most magical midwives, a very special doctor as well as nurses who worked together as an amazing team.
I will never forget this incredible experience and will always warmly recommend Hadassah to others. I hope every woman who comes to give birth will have a positive and empowering experience- just like mine!
Thank you to my new Hadassah family!”
Dr. Fortunato Ben-Arroch, a senior physician at the Center for Pediatric Traumatic Stress at Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus, and the center staff have been busy during the COVID-19 pandemic working with families to cope with the fallout of the pandemic, and helping them find ways to reduce friction amongst each other, keep routines, and deal with stress.
To read the full article, and learn about how the team at the Center for Pediatric Traumatic Stress helped *Motti, *Mali, and their children, click here.
*Names changed for confidentiality