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The Other Side of the Mountain

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

When I arrived at work a week ago today, Hadassah-Ein Kerem was a different place. Overnight, the temporary wall that separated the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower from the main building had been removed. The two buildings seemed to flow together, connected by the sunlight that poured into the passageway from the magnificent three-story glass entrance atrium – the David and Fela Shapell Family Gateway to Health. The atrium was filled with people busily preparing for the Moving In Day ceremonies that would take place just a few hours later.

Just five floors above, the first patients were being wheeled into the new Department of Urology on the fifth floor of the Davidson Hospital Tower. Walking across the glass bridge that connects the old building to the new you have the feeling that you are coming into a different world, and in a sense you really are. From a room filled with five, six or seven beds and one bathroom, our patients entered one or two bed rooms with private bathrooms and each with an exceptional view. Although somewhat in awe and a little shocked, from the moment they arrived, all the patients were full of praise for their new surroundings.

"I can't believe the luxury," Meir Cohen said on Monday. "I only hope people understand how to use all the technology here." He was obviously speaking about himself. When I visited him on Wednesday, he told me the department was "something unbelievable." Yet, although the staff had explained how to use the tray tablet, he had not quite mastered its multitude of functions. It took me a few minutes, but I managed to figure it out and show him its finer features.

A few rooms away, Alex Orin, who is a few decades younger, had no such problem. He was totally at ease with the interactive television and all the other high-tech features. "This is fantastic," he said, speaking softly because his mother was resting on the nearby pull-out chair. He added that the new environment affects the staff as well as the patients. "They seem happier here."

Along the way, I stopped to talk to some of the doctors and nurses. "We have no problems," said Dina Katz the head nurse on duty. "It's all very pleasant." In the physicians' work room, Dr. Gideon Lorber and Dr. Anna Elia concurred. "The arrangements are excellent," Dr. Lorber said.

"There are no problems," Prof. Dov Pode, the department head said on Monday. "The problem might be that the patients are so happy they won't want to leave," he added jokingly. Two days later, as I went from room to room, I could see that everyone was happy; yet, everyone wanted to be well enough to leave, which is as it should be.


Left side: Saed Gara, Urology Head Nurse, Orly Picker Rotem, Deputy Director General of Nursing and Human Resources. Right side: Dr. Yuval Weiss, Director of Hadassah-Ein Kerem

Although the Davidson Tower looks and feels like a first class hotel, it is, after all, a hospital, a place where sick people are treated. Alongside the superb physical design and the sophisticated technology, it represents an improvement in the accommodations that respect patients' privacy and dignity. We now have an outstanding building where patients receive outstanding treatment, as they have throughout HMO in the past. What sets the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower apart and above, is not the medicine but the ability to provide our patients with a level of comfort they deserve. As I left the department and passed the beautiful Healing Garden, I knew we had entered into a whole new era, with a whole new hospital, with a whole new approach. Now that we have arrived at this point, our job is to breathe life into this building, the first new public hospital to built in Israel in 40 years.

The next day we held the ceremony honoring outstanding employees. I must tell you that choosing among the many, many members of the HMO staff is very difficult. I know that the excellence of all our employees combined with our superb new facilities will provide the quality of care that will continue to make Hadassah the Medical Center of choice for those in need of medical care and further enhance our exceptional reputation.

Last Monday, we arrived at the top of the mountain. The Moving In Day celebration was extraordinary, as befits the people who planned the new building, those who built it and those who will occupy it. Today, a week later – and even before – I knew we would have to look at the other side of the mountain. The celebration, which was an historic occasion, triggered many thoughts – not only about the new building but about the entire institution and the entire organization. We have to think about the best possible uses for the round building, what it will house and how we can refurbish it to make it suitable for the 21st century. We have to think about the buildings that surround the old building; about how our doctors can treat their patients, carry out their research and collaborate with colleagues, moving easily from one to the other. We have to invest a lot of thought and analysis about the direction we will take next, especially about what is best for our patients, not just those in the Davidson Hospital Tower but on both campuses of the Medical Center.

Long before we welcomed the generous donors and honored guests to the Moving In Day celebration, I had thought about all our devoted supporters and how selflessly they have contributed to make HMO the leading medical institution in Israel. Without them Hadassah would not be what it is and we would not be able to do what we do.


From left to right: Past National President Nancy Falchuk; Current National President Marcie Natan; Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower Campaign Co-Chair Judy Swartz; Past National President Marlene Post; Past National President and Building Chair Bonnie Lipton.

As I greeted HWZOA National President Marcie Natan, HMO Chair Joyce Rabin, Building Chair Bonnie Lipton and the other past National Presidents, I thought again about the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower, the monumental gift this 100-year-young organization has given Israel for its centennial. I continue to think about all the volunteer hours Hadassah members, Associates and the men and women of Hadassah International, dedicate to HMO; all the effort they expend on their other home, their home in Jerusalem.

Last Monday was a once-in-a lifetime event for an organization; a highly emotional experience for me and for all those who gathered for the ceremony. From the beginning, when Davidson Tower Campaign Co-Chair Judy Swartz called on Prof. Alon Pikarsky to lead us in Hatikvah and the voices of hundreds of people filled the atrium, to the finish, when the Chief Rabbi of Israel, the Rishon Lezion Rabbi Shlomo Amar, and Campaign Co-Chair Sidney Swartz affixed the mezuzah and we all said, "Amen," that day and that time will forever be etched in my mind.

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