While Jerusalem remained in lockdown over the weekend, under 2 feet of snow, and while power outages plagued the city, Hadassah Medical Center was working over time to meet the needs of 80 women who gave birth during the snowstorm.
Professor Simcha Yagel, head of the Division of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Hadassah told Tazpit News Agency that hospital staff and technicians both at Hadassah’s Ein Karem and Mount Scopus facilities had prepared for the snowstorm.
“The administration worked out how many doctors and nurses would be working at each hospital,” explained Yagel. “Food and medical supplies were also prepared beforehand.”
“The stress level was high – I don’t remember such a time at the hospital,” said Yagel, who had just finished performing five caesarian sections before the interview on Sunday. “The weather presented us with many challenges.”
“There were nurses who worked 16-hour shifts because the blocked roads prevented other nurses from coming in. We also had a doctor who came in on Thursday and stayed through Sunday,” Yagel told Tazpit.
Yagel recounts how one ambulance transported two expecting mothers to Hadassah— not the typical protocol. In another case, rescue teams were able to transport an expecting mother to the hospital after Route 443, blocked by snow and cars on Thursday evening, remained stuck. “Her water could have broken in the middle of the highway in the traffic jam, but thanks to rescue efforts, the mother was transported safely to the hospital.”
According to Magen David Adom (MDA), more than 200 pregnant women were transported by Israel’s largest ambulance service during the stormy weather since Thursday night, December 12, with 186 from the Jerusalem area and 15 from Tsfat.
Imad Salman, a Magen David Adom ambulance volunteer, received a call at 4:00 in the morning about a 34-year-old pregnant woman from Beitar Illit in Gush Etzion who needed medical attention.
“We contacted local authorities, telling them to clear the way for us, because we knew the roads were blocked by snow,” recalled Salman. “We were able to reach her and have her transferred to the ambulance. However, at the moment that we were about to leave Beitar Illit, we got another call: another 25-year-old woman was giving birth in her home.”
“We notified a local on-call doctor, who arrived to help the young mother give birth. In order to get to the hospital as fast as possible, we took the new mother and her small baby with us in the ambulance, together with the other mother who was in labor,” described Salman.
The ride back from the Judean Hills to Jerusalem was extremely difficult, due to the heavy snowfall. At some point, the women had to be transferred into a 4×4 ambulance and driven safely to Hadassah.
Similar stories happened in northern Israel’s Safed, according to MDA staff.
An IAF aircraft assisted an Israeli woman in labor from the Yitzhar community, delivering her safely to Jerusalem, where she gave birth at the hospital.
“Everyone functioned at their best despite all the challenges of the snowstorm, including rescue crews, MDA, and the hospital staff,” said Professor Yagel. “There is nothing to complain about here, except for the snow,” he concluded. “We’ll all be happy when it melts away.”