Why US Pediatrician Loves Caring for Kids in Hadassah’s ER

Thursday, Mar 24 2016

Dr. Sig Kharasch greeting a patient.

While Harvard Pediatrician Dr. Sig Kharasch usually works in the pediatric emergency room at Massachusetts General Hospital, he comes to the Hadassah Medical Center periodically to work in its pediatric emergency room. “I feel privileged to be able to do this,” says Dr. Kharasch, who studied Hebrew for six years to get his fluency up to speed.

While he reveals that he can’t get used to terrorism being a regular subject in the hospital or that they are treating so many terror victims, he loves Hadassah because “it is a slice of peace--the intersection of politics and medicine that really works.”

Dr. Kharasch brings out that the diseases he sees at Hadassah are more diverse and unusual than those in Boston’s emergency rooms. For example, he recently encountered three cases of rheumatic fever. He also sees a greater incidence of metabolic disease at Hadassah, which occurs when the parents are first cousins—a phenomenon that is more prevalent in Jerusalem.

“When there’s an emergency, no one moves faster than the Israeli team,” Dr. Kharasch relates. At the same time, he notices, Israeli physicians don’t like to send patients home or to hospitalize them as quickly as they do in Boston. Israeli physicians like to wait a few hours to see what is developing. “That’s good medicine,” he says.

About the families, Dr. Kharasch comments: “The families of the patients are so grateful; they’re far more affectionate, in Middle Eastern style.”

In terms of the medical residents, Dr. Kharasch observes that the quality of the residents is top-notch, but they aren’t used to getting as much attention and bedside teaching as their American counterparts. As a result, they are very appreciative that he spends so much time with them. “Because my wife (a pediatric pulmonologist) isn’t with me on this trip,” he adds, “I even have time to go out with them.”

Dr. Kharasch also comments on the warmth he observes among the staff members: “It is so nice to see how affectionate the staff is to one another. Hugs, kisses when they see each other each new day together. Like close family that has not seen one another for a long time. Even though it was yesterday! So different from America.”

Dr. Kharasch conveys that he has been inspired by his father, an obstetrician and gynecologic surgeon who “spent the happiest years of his life in Israel” and by Israel itself. He wants his children to understand how important Israel is to their lives.


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