Imagine running a hospital that is minutes from a war zone, and has the largest delivery room of all Israel’s hospitals. We’re talking about war, stitching bodies together and delivering babies under extraordinary circumstances: that’s Israel, and that’s Soroka Medical Center.
Dr. Ehud Davidson has been the director-general of Soroka Medical Center since 2013. He’s visiting the States this week because, after the war, he and his staff realized there are needs which must be met before the inevitable next outbreak of hostilities, and he’s hoping to find people who want to help.
But while he’s in the States, Davidson took the time to speak with The Jewish Press. He talked about what his life has been like since taking over as director of Soroka.
Dr. Davidson began his medical career as an internist, but he’s been in administration since 2000. He started along this path at Meir Hospital, which is north of Tel Aviv. In 2007, Dr. Davidson went to the south, where he served as Deputy Director General of Clatit.
And for the past 15 months Ehud Davidson has been at the helm of Soroka Medical Center, located in Be’er Sheva, in the Negev.
“It has been the most interesting period of my life. Why? Because Soroka has a mission: to bridge the gap in services between the center of Israel and its south. And while we are attempting to provide services to those myriad populations, we also have another major responsibility. Not only are we the biggest hospital in the south, we are also the closest major hospital to the source of most of the major violent conflicts Israel has experienced in the past ten years.
This summer was not just interesting from a medical delivery perspective, it was difficult. So many killed, so many wounded.
“Some veterans on the staff said it resembled the Yom Kippur War,” Davidson shared with a sigh.
And then he began describing exactly what this past summer’s 50 days of war were like at Soroka.
Dr. Davidson described the dozens of times helicopters descended onto the hospital’s helipad, with the doctors rushing to unload and immediately begin treating the severely wounded soldiers.
“They worked shift after shift, so many of them would not go home, even after I insisted,” Davidson said.
“For quite a few of our staff, they never knew when one of these soldiers being downloaded off the choppers might be their own son, or that of a friend’s, or colleagues,” Davidson explained.
In such a small country, every single one of the wounded could be someone you know. In fact, each one is someone you know, because they are all Israelis protecting every doctor and every nurse and every medical center in this tiny country. So many of the doctors and other staff members kept working around the clock, doing their part to protect Israel.
What was different about the way Soroka handled this war?
Davidson proudly explains that all the heads of the medical departments met in what he called their “situation room,” twice every day, to report what was happening in all the different units, what was needed, how emergencies were being handled and what was being learned about how to respond. Every day Soroka medical teams were improving their performances based on best practices shared.
Another innovation was making the patient the center of the practice. A wounded soldier stayed in the intensive care unit. All the treating doctors and staff would come to him, rather than have the patient rotated to the different doctors in, for example, cardiology or orthopedics. The patient was the hub, not the medical department or the physician.
In all, Soroka treated more than 1200 Israelis wounded during Operation Protective Edge, two-thirds of whom were soldiers, one-third civilians.