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Hadassah Role Models

Diary of A Director General
By Prof. Ehud Kokia
Director General, Hadassah Medical Organization

Dear Family and Friends of Hadassah,

Last week I spent a morning visiting the Department of Hematology at Hadassah-Ein Kerem. I was impressed with the sophisticated treatment and professional expertise our patients receive, but I came away in awe of the Department’s doctors, nurses, scientists, technicians and support staff. Totally dedicated to their patients, battling to save each and every life, they never give up even when the outlook is grim.

They and their colleagues throughout our hospitals are the soul of our Medical Center. In many ways they represent all that we strive for, all that we hope to achieve; not just excellent treatment, but caring and compassionate treatment.

Prof. Dina Ben-Yehuda (right) chairs the Division of Hematology –  the department on Mt. Scopus as well as the one at Ein Kerem. She sets the standard by example and her standard is excellence. She believes that the people that staff the Department’s units, clinics and specialized services must be more than superb clinicians; they must be capable of experiencing the emotional factor, the personal factor. She expects our doctors to give 100 percent of themselves to their patients, and they do. “When I choose residents, they have to be the best in their field,” she says, “but more than that, they have to pass the ‘tear test.’ If they come to the department and don’t cry even once, they are not accepted.”

As we walked through the halls, we met many patients and members of their families. They all know Prof. Ben-Yehuda and she knows them; she knows them as people, not just patients. So do the members of her staff. “We are like a family,” she told me. “We care for all their problems, not just their disease.”

Prof. Ben-Yehuda’s dedication to her patients is matched by her dedication to her physicians. Their future and the Division’s is as important to her as the present. After examining their career options, she sits with each of them and devises an individualized professional program. It can be a fellowship at a prestigious foreign medical center or a research sabbatical. She understands that while rooted in the Division, their eyes are also on the horizon; that giving them room to grow gives them something to anticipate.

This is an approach I would like to see adopted throughout HMO. In fact, I have already begun instituting it myself. I have already held meetings with groups of residents and young medical specialists and plan to hold more. I want to hear about their hopes and dreams and yes, the things they feel we should be doing differently. I am speaking here of a long-term approach, one that will help us keep talented young physicians by nourishing them and giving them an opportunity to flourish.

The Hematology Department’s preoccupation with our patients is the basis for its extensive basic and clinical research. “All our doctors, scientists and many of our nurses take our patients’ problems into their labs, to try to solve them,” Prof. Ben-Yehuda says. Each of the senior physicians and scientists has a specific research interest and a laboratory devoted to that topic.

During our tour, we stopped in to meet with Prof. David Varon (far right), Head of the V. Lester Stromer Coagulation Unit, and some of his colleagues. It was time well spent, not just because he serves the best cup of coffee in the hospital, but because it gave me a chance to meet some of his staff, many of whom have doctorates as well as medical degrees. They deal with patients who have an innate or acquired tendency to bleed, those at the other end of the spectrum who have disorders that cause their blood to clot excessively, and people with related problems.   

An expert in the treatment of bleeding disorders, Prof. Varon’s involvement and the laboratory he heads, is essential to the patients in the Department, whether hospitalized or coming to Hadassah for day treatments.

Prof. Ben-Yehuda’s team, which functions completely as a team,  includes nurses with specialized training in hematology and doctors completing fellowships in subspecialties. She would be the first to tell you that the Department’s close relationship with the Blood Bank, the Department of Bone Marrow Transplantation and the Pharmacy, is vital.

I left the Department of Hematology inspired and impressed. This is not an easy discipline or a stress-free place to work. The patients suffer from a wide range of blood diseases, malignant and benign, hereditary and acquired; conditions that do not respond to immediate intervention. People are treated and hospitalized for long periods of time; weeks, months, sometimes even years. We save many of them, but unfortunately the odds of survival are still not in the patient’s favor.

I have faith that the research we are conducting will continue to make a difference and the statistics will continue to improve. The all-embracing atmosphere of our Department of Hematology and the staff’s total commitment to our patients, makes the loss of a patient difficult to bear. I believe you have to be a hero or heroine to continue to carry on with the love, patience and care that they extend to each and every patient. Until very recently, Hadassah had the only department of its kind in Israel. From what I saw and learned, our Department of Hematology it is still the only department of its kind in Israel.

Dr. Ido Yatsiv who passed away this week, was the same kind of physician. One of HMO’s leaders, he significantly contributed to Hadassah's worldwide reputation as a top medical center. A graduate of Hadassah-Hebrew University School of Medicine, he completed his residency at Hadassah. After completing as fellowship at the Children's National Medical Center in Washington DC, he returned to Hadassah where he headed our Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) for the last ten years. He was also one of the co-founders of the Israeli Society of Pediatric Critical Care, was active in establishing critical care as an independent sub-specialty within pediatrics and in setting up the fellowship curriculum. Dr. Yatsiv’s sudden and unexpected death interrupted his clinical and scientific work as he was about to fulfill his dream of opening the new upgraded PICU in just a few months.

We will remember Dr. Ido Yatsiv as an exemplary physician, always smiling when interacting with his patients and their parents, a colleague who inspired his team to emulate his dedication and a very good friend. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Gabi, and his entire family.



Prof. Ehud Kokia
Director General

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