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September 30, 2016 / 27 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘hospitals’

Of Hospitals, Doctors And Nurses

Monday, June 6th, 2016

This column has brought to life some of the heroes and heroines who labored to bring dreamers to the shores of Israel, who built the army and the navy, and who gave their young lives to the fledgling homeland. Their sacrifices are priceless. In this final article, we visit the ill-equipped hospitals where staff and even patients gave of themselves unconditionally. These many heroes and heroines gave Israel their hearts.

 

Professor Jack Penn was an innovative South African plastic surgeon, one of the first of many South African medical professionals who arrived in Israel to heal the wounded. After he had successfully completed an intricate facial operation, Israel’s senior doctors, most of whom were war refugees from Germany and who would not accept that their training in the great German medical schools of the 1920s and 30s was outdated, reacted with scorn.

Dr. Jack Penn

Dr. Jack Penn

“Ach ja,” they said, “but you have ze equipment.”

“It’s the technique you should be watching,” said Penn. “You could do it with a kitchen knife.”

The doctors laughed – until later that day when Penn performed an even more complicated reconstruction job on the face of a mutilated tank driver using a knife from the hospital kitchen that he had sharpened to a razor edge. *

Penn, a major in the South African army, had had wartime experience with casualties in need of plastic and reconstructive surgery when he served in the Battle of Britain. But not everyone treating the wounded Israeli soldiers had such an advantage. In addition, they were working with outdated medical equipment and insufficient supplies.

***

Three in One

In early June, South African nurse Ray Brunton established Djani, the country’s first real military hospital, in Jaffa. With no medical equipment in sight, it was a hospital in name only. In her memoirs, Ray describes the conditions under which she and her colleagues toiled to save lives. While checking the area for mines, the staff found a stack of out-of-date instruments was found buried in the ground. The orthopedic surgeon used sterilized sculptor’s tools and she used sterilized crochet cotton to sew up the patients. With few options, amputations were carried out at an alarming rate. Ray protested against this and when her protests failed, she hid the tools.

Ray Brunton

Ray Brunton

Since the wounded were brought in from Jerusalem during the night, the medical team would work through the night and then sleep four hours in the late morning. Despite the conditions, the hospital was a success. “I must say that we never, ever had a septic case; in fact nothing went wrong. The Lord was on our side, and nobody else,” writes Ray.

With Djani up and running, Ray was sent to a hospital situated between Kfar Giladi and Tel Hai. Fighting in the area was so heavy that when she arrived at the hospital in Teverya, no one would take her to Kfar Giladi. In fact, the staff denied that there was even a hospital there. In essence, they were right: the hospital, a prefab makeshift building, had no name.

Ray’s third posting was the hospital in Beersheva. On arrival, the commanding officer greeted her with the words: “So you’re the next one they’ve sent to be killed.” Both Ray’s predecessors had been killed in the fighting. But she was undeterred. She went on to work under impossible circumstances, once dealing with 200 wounded entirely by herself because the other staff members had left for the weekend. Happily, not everything in Beersheva was blood and gore. One night, Ray had the good fortune to deliver a baby boy: possibly the first Jewish baby to be born in Beersheva in 2,000 years.

Rhona Lewis

Dr. Orly Weinstein to Head Israel Hospitals Authority

Sunday, December 20th, 2015

Dr. Orly Weinstein has been chosen Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman to head the hospital authority that was formed out of the Israeli Health Ministry during the previous administration.

Weinstein’s responsibilities will include supervision over all general, geriatric and psychiatric medical centers that are owned and operated by the State of Israel.

Technically, the division to be administered by Weinstein is considered an authority separate and apart from the Health Ministry.

The change took place due to a reform approved by the cabinet during the tenure of the previous health minister, Yael German.

Weinstein is replacing Esther Dominissini, the first person to head the authority. Dominissini served as a former board chairperson of the Hadassah Medical Organization and other major agencies. She resigned after the most recent election.

Hana Levi Julian

IDF Helps Palestinians Cross into Israel from Gaza

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Major Tariq is a senior commander at the Erez Crossing where he helps thousands of Palestinians cross from Gaza into Israel every month.

Major Tariq, a senior commander in the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), works in one of Israel’s most sensitive areas. Stationed at the Erez Crossing – just steps away from Gaza – he and his soldiers face the constant threat of attacks from Hamas terrorists. Since 2005, Hamas has launched 8,000 rockets from Gaza at populated areas in Israel’s southern region.

Despite the danger, Maj. Tariq works every day to help Palestinians cross into Israel from Gaza. As a result of his cooperation with the Palestinian Authority – which also works with a division of COGAT in Judea and Samaria  –  about 400 Gazans travel into Israel each day through the Erez crossing.

“The majority of requests are related to health problems,” Maj. Tariq said of civilians traveling through the crossing. Several times each day, Maj. Tariq and his staff direct the Palestinians to Israeli hospitals that can treat their conditions. IDF officials estimate that some 100 Palestinians seeking medical care travel into Israel each day.

Although Palestinians can receive medical treatment in Gaza, many turn to Israeli hospitals for more advanced care.  “It is important to note that there are 27 hospitals in Gaza. Gaza’s population has the ability to receive medical care on site,” Maj. Tariq explained, adding that Israeli hospitals can handle complex health problems that Gazan hospitals are incapable of treating.

Photo credit: IDF

Photo credit: IDF

“When a child is sick, injured and needs prompt treatment, we take all precautions and measures so that the child can pass through the crossing as quickly as possible,” Maj. Tariq said, explaining that all Gazans in urgent need of medical care receive the highest-priority treatment at the crossing. “IDF soldiers ensure that an ambulance arrives and brings the patients to a nearby Israeli hospital, where they receive necessary medical care,” Maj. Tariq added.

Many other Gazans cross into Israel to visit relatives living in Judea and Samaria. Each month, IDF officials help more than 3,000 Palestinians pass through the crossing to visit their families. This month, as Palestinian Muslims observe the holiday of Ramadan, higher numbers of travelers are visiting Israel to celebrate the holiday with family members.

Palestinians cross into Israel for Ramadan. Photo credit: IDF

Palestinians cross into Israel for Ramadan. Photo credit: IDF


Speaking Their Language

Maj. Tariq, who comes from a Druze community in Israel’s north, grew up speaking Arabic like many other members of his unit. His fluency allows for a direct line of communication between the IDF and Palestinian travelers. According to Maj. Tariq, he often speaks directly with Gaza residents to understand their needs on an individual level.

Maj. Tariq is responsible for facilitating all passages through the Erez Crossing. Photo credit: IDF

Maj. Tariq is responsible for facilitating all passages through the Erez Crossing. Photo credit: IDF

Native speakers of Arabic like Maj. Tariq are not the only soldiers who can speak with the travelers in their native language. The unit requires all of its members – from new recruits to commanders – to complete a course in Arabic. This policy ensures that all of the unit’s soldiers are prepared to communicate with Gazans directly to discuss their specific requests.
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