|A Friday Story|
I would like to tell you about some of the extraordinary people who ensure that the Hadassah University Medical Center functions – not just functions, but functions superbly. These people play a major role in burnishing Hadassah's illustrious reputation as the leading medical center in Israel by spearheading innovations and setting the standard for medicine in Israel. They are my management team and yours – they are the people who have made the Hadassah Medical Organization what it is today – and set the stage for what will happen at our Medical Center for decades to come.
Dr. Yair Birnbaum, Associate Director General and Head of Medical Services, leads the team. A pediatrician by training, he chose to focus on the managerial side of medicine, earning a Master's degree in Public Administration from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. As head of Medical Services, he is responsible for both our campuses and our satellite health services. "Ninety-six percent of the problems come through me," he says describing that part of his leadership role with an unperturbed smile.
As Associate Director General he is involved in almost every aspect of the Medical Center. Much of his time is spent dealing with Israel's four "sick funds," the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Finance and the heads of Hadassah's three unions – the physicians' union, the nurses' union and the workers' union. As a member of the management team, he also interviews and screens candidates to head departments, negotiates the details of their employment and determines how our management can support them to best realize their position.
All the while Dr. Birnbaum is looking to Hadassah's future, implementing new programs and assessing the acquisition of new equipment. When projects have passed their initial stage, he turns them over to the hospital directors. Over the years, his initiatives, his actions and his forward thinking have had a substantial impact. The presentation he made to the HMO Board in 2002 on the "Aches and Pains of Hadassah-Ein Kerem" was a major impetus for our decision to construct the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower, which he guided during its early years.
As Deputy Director General of Nursing and Human Resources, Orly Picker Rotem is another member of our team who wears two hats. A nurse by profession, with a Master of Science in Nursing from Tel Aviv University, she oversees the day-to-day activities on both campuses for nurses and patients. "Health and medicine mostly involves dealing with people," she says, "not issues like work schedules."
Nonetheless, she believes that policies must be established and followed. After she wrote "The Nursing Vision" for HMO, she has been dedicated to realizing its recommendations and making them part of the nursing culture, with considerable success. Her vision advocates new and empowering roles for nurses, advanced policies and protocols for patients, and most of all, building a culture of values.
Like Dr. Birnbaum, she introduces new ideas and is involved in seeing them through their growing pains. For some time now, Ms. Picker Rotem has been grappling with Israel's – and Hadassah's – growing shortage of nurses. The pay scale, determined by the Ministry of Health, is the same throughout the country. "Nursing is a very hard profession," she says, "physically and emotionally demanding. Professional satisfaction is the reason nurses come to Hadassah – and it is the reason they stay. Here people – and patients -- make an extra effort to let our nurses know they make a difference." Hadassah's annual patient survey testifies to their satisfaction.
"I can say with confidence that nursing at Hadassah is different from nursing in other hospitals. In some areas it is better and more professional, but most of all, it is more caring."
Impressed with her "can do" attitude and style, about three years ago, I asked Ms Picker Rotem to also head the Division of Human Resources. As with health and medicine, this division deals primarily with people – the people who work for Hadassah. Under her leadership, she has begun to create a culture of trust, along with implementing new policies and protocols, and enhancing and updating the technological tools.
"Hadassah has committed workers with knowledge and ability," she says. "I am trying to help them understand the vital role they play. They are the business partners of HMO's directors. At the same time, I understand their needs – and that change is not easy. When we all succeed, both sides will benefit."
Yaacov Schreibman, Associate Director General of Administration and Finance, likes to keep a low profile. As difficult as it is to get him to talk about himself, he is more than happy to speak about Hadassah, what has been accomplished in the ten years he has been at our Medical Center – and the unique role Hadassah plays in the Israeli medical world. He is well qualified to comment on all those topics – and many more.
A graduate of the Technion with a degree in Engineering, he also earned a Master's degree in Public Administration from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, and spent many years in senior managerial and administrative positions in public and private health-related institutions. "I wanted to contribute something to the system," he says. "I chose Hadassah because it is the best place in the world to do that." We have benefited from his decision.
"Over the last decade," he says, "Hadassah has made revolutionary progress in improving and updating the physical plant, introduced and advanced computerized systems and modernized the logistical process.
"Hadassah is a natural leader in these fields, just like it is in medicine. The Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower is the most recent example. Turning the Medical Center into a paperless medical facility is another. The hallmark of this achievement is a hallmark of Hadassah. Our Information Technology team developed the software for all aspects of maintaining electronic medical records specifically for our purposes. It is so successful that other hospitals are studying it and we are considering commercializing it."
For Dr. Yuval Weiss, Director of Hadassah-Ein Kerem, "medicine is not a job; it is a way of life." An anesthesiologist by training with a Master's degree in Public Health, he is responsible for attending to the needs of the 20,000 patients and visitors who come to the hospital every day – as well as the doctors and nurses who work in Ein Kerem's vast medical complex.
"A hospital is an entity that lives 24/7, open around the clock every day of the year. Every day is different and every day something new happens. Our job is to take care of people in the most appropriate, timely and caring manner," he says. "However ," he adds, "these days, financial considerations play a larger role than they did in the past."
Every day there are medical issues that have to be resolved. Often the solution requires creative thinking and an imaginative approach.
"Because we are Hadassah, we have more functional flexibility – but we also have a different financial obligation. If we try something and it fails, we absorb the costs, so with every new idea, we weigh and measure the consequences. Yet because it's important for Hadassah to be at the cutting edge of medicine," Dr. Weiss says, "sometimes we take on projects that advance medical care and know that we will have to help finance them until they are up and running."
He cited the decision to approve our Heart Institute's use of the Trans-catheter Aortic Valve Implant (TAVI), a new technology to non-surgically replace diseased aortic valves. It is especially beneficial for high-risk patients. Hadassah is the only medical center in Israel – and one of a select group in the world – where people can undergo this new procedure.
"When TAVI was introduced, he said, "it was not included in the basket of services Israel's national health insurance provides. We began performing one TAVI procedure a month while we negotiated with the Ministry of Health over the costs. It took us two years, but now TAVI is included in the health basket. "
Hadassah-Mt. Scopus is only five miles away, but an entirely different kind of hospital. In many ways it is a separate enclave – and in many others, an integral part of the Hadassah Medical Organization. Prof. Zvi Stern, Director of Hadassah-Mt. Scopus, is truly a Hadassah "native son." He was graduated from our Medical School and completed his residency in the Department of Internal Medicine before assuming significant positions in management. An expert in quality assurance and risk management, he has been part of the HMO management team for over 25 years, serving as Director of Hadassah-Ein Kerem before assuming the challenging responsibility for Hadassah-Mt. Scopus 10 years ago.
This is the Hadassah Dream Team – Yair, Orly, Yaacov, Yuval and Zvika – the outstanding and creative individuals who understand how to act independently while at the same time, how to be effective team players. They cooperate and collaborate for the common good, yet "people are not confused about who does what," Dr. Birnbaum says.
"I come to work every day with a smile," Ms. Rotem Picker remarks. "I'm not afraid of challenges. I like them. I'm grateful for the freedom I am given to initiate and innovate, and most of all for the strong support I receive."
As Mr. Schreibman says, "there's nothing like Hadassah." As far as I am concerned, everything else is commentary.
I am the face of the Medical Center, a roving ambassador for the Hadassah Medical Organization. My name is on our stationary and in many ways "the buck stops here." I can invest my energies in these activities precisely because I know that these people are there in Jerusalem working alongside me to fulfill the enormous responsibility for the day-to-day development and activities of the hospitals.
These talented people have very little visibility, yet without them, Hadassah would not be the leading medical institution in Israel. Dedicated colleagues and friends, their devotion and support, their creativity and competence are vital for me – for the Hadassah Medical Organization and for all who admire and cherish our remarkable Medical Center.