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The Hadassah Connection

A Friday Story
By Shlomo Mor-Yosef

Dear Friends,

As you know, over the years we have acquired an international reputation for excellence, so much so that patients come to us from all over the world for care and treatment. We are also often recognized for our international outreach efforts to nearby neighbors and people in far flung places.

Less well known, perhaps, is that some of that international outreach takes place right here at Hadassah where 100 foreign doctors are serving as medical residents and completing fellowships. About half of them come from the Palestinian community. That is a story in itself. Today I would like to tell you about the others who were attracted by our experience and expertise.

We have already learned from previous participants that their years at Hadassah dramatically influence how they practice medicine when they return home.

Currently we have eight doctors from Costa Rica and seven from Mexico. The others come – in varying numbers – from Argentina, Australia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Germany, India, Peru, Romania, Turkey, Venezuela and Yugoslavia. Their fields of interest are as vast as their backgrounds. Eight of them are in the Department of Ophthalmology, seven in the Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care Medicine. The rest are in the Departments of Cardiology, Gynecology, Neurosurgery, Orthopedics, Plastic Surgery and Radiology. About two-thirds of them are men.

Dr. Sasha Lonchar, a cardiologist, will return home at the end of this year. Home for him is Bosnia, Yugoslavia. "We had decent medicine there before the war," he says, "but as the conflict raged, many doctors left. Everything was destroyed, but now we're rebuilding." He looks forward to being part of that process and "practicing the medicine I learned here."

"Serbs and Jews have a special relationship," he said. "We remember the Holocaust and every year we commemorate it with a special ceremony." While serving as an English language translator on one of those occasions, he met visitors from abroad and told them of his dream to pursue a specialty in interventional cardiology. "They suggested Hadassah and now I'm training with the best."

Dr. Lonchar is especially impressed with the easy interaction and open communication among the doctors in the department, without regard for titles or hierarchy. "If I miss the morning staff meeting, I feel as if I have missed a lot," he says. "I really appreciate the way we discuss the cases and that I can express my opinion freely without any consequences. Each of us brings a different approach based on our individual culture and experience. Together we are creating a hybrid approach that results in the best patient care."

Dr. Lonchar is returning to Bosnia at the end of this year "to practice the medicine I learned here."Along with his newly acquired medical skills, he is planning to implement "the Hadassah approach" among his colleagues. "We have a lot of heart disease in my country," he says. "This way I know my patients will get the best treatment."

"Hadassah is known all over the world," says Dr. Paola Mosqueda who was thrilled to be accepted for Hadassah's three-year Diploma Course in Ophthalmology. After completing medical school in her native Monterrey, Mexico, she spent a year interning in Houston, Texas and another doing public service in a rural area of Mexico. "Personally and professionally I find Hadassah completely different from all the other places I studied and worked. The atmosphere here is so open, so welcoming – and the teachers are amazing."

"In the field of retina, for example, we have four different teachers. Each of them approaches the subject from a different perspective, covering the entire field. All the doctors in the Ophthalmology Department are so open. It's easy to approach them, ask questions, discuss problems and learn more."

"And," Dr. Mosqueda added, "because Hadassah's patients come from so many different ethnic backgrounds, I see eye diseases and conditions I would rarely or never encounter in Mexico."After completing the program, she plans to return to Monterrey where she hopes to join her father, also an ophthalmologist, and put into practice what she learned at Hadassah.

For three of the doctors on the current program, Hadassah gave them the opportunity to pursue their professional goals and fulfill their personal desire to be in Israel. Like the others on the program, their journey to Jerusalem has changed their professional lives – and their personal ones as well. They met their spouses at Hadassah-Ein Kerem.

Dr. Samuel Moscovici is a fourth-year resident in the Department of Neurosurgery. "I always wanted to come to Israel and I always wanted to be a neurosurgeon," he says, explaining how it came to be. After graduating medical school in Caracas, he volunteered to lead a youth group from his Jewish day school on their annual trip to Israel.

During that visit, he arranged for a preliminary interview at Hadassah. "That was before I knew they spoke Spanish," he says with a smile, noting that three of the Department's senior staff members are from Argentina. When he returned to Hadassah on the residency program, he met Inbal Kremer, a student at the Hebrew University School of Pharmacy located on our campus and they married. She is now a licensed pharmacist and he has two more years to complete before he qualifies for his specialty.

"From the standpoint of hospitals, I think Hadassah ranks very, very high – and the international flavor of the people we work with and treat makes Hadassah special. Sharing personal and professional experiences gives us all a very humanitarian approach and teaches you to be a better doctor," he says.

"My father is Jewish," says Dr. Daniel Sebok, an orthopedist from Romania, "so I decided to come for three months. I have been here six years," he says, "and am planning to stay." One of the reasons, he explained, is his wife, Dr. Tatiana Sebok, an ophthalmologist. "Although we're both from Romania, we never would have met if we hadn't come to Hadassah."

He will complete his residency this year and would like to continue his studies at Hadassah, specializing in orthopedic oncology. Tatiana and their three-month-old daughter, Sara, are currently in Romania where she is studying for her medical exams. When she returns, she will embark on her last two years of residency in pediatric ophthalmology.

"It is the people that make Hadassah so special," he says. "They support each other unlike the hospitals in Switzerland and Germany where I worked."


Yes, my friends, our doctors are special. Superb clinicians, outstanding researchers and inspired teachers, they are what makes Hadassah's name synonymous with healing. They open their hearts as well as their minds to our overseas students – teaching them, training them and listening to them, counseling them and caring for them. And when our foreign doctors return home, they take with them advanced medical training – and the special spirit they found at Hadassah – to pass on to others, promoting health and healing where ever they may be.


Shabbat Shalom


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