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From the Desk of Avigdor Kaplan

Dear Hadassah Family,

This year, the unique convergence of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving has special meaning for the three people who have made nearly miraculous recoveries following a devastating stroke, a heart attack and a hit-and-run accident. I say "nearly miraculous," because all of them really owe their lives to Hadassah’s superb medical teams.

Tonight, as we light the first Hanukkah candle, they will be rejoicing in the miracle of their recoveryand, whilethey may not actually be celebrating Thanksgiving, they will be filled with gratitude for the medical treatment they received from our skilled staff. Here are the stories of the miracles of our making:

A half hour after one of our professors arrived at work, he collapsed in his office in the department he had recently headed. A doctor passing by immediately called the resuscitation team, who literally brought him back from “that other world.” Half of his body was paralyzed and he couldn’t speak. In the Emergency Room, a CT scan of his head confirmed that he had suffered a stroke; catheterization revealed a blockage in one of the main arteries of his brain. In a four-hour procedure, Prof. Jose Cohen, Head of our Endovascular Neurosurgery Unit, and our talented neuro-radiology team, inserted several stents into this very narrow artery--one to clear the blockage and another to prevent further damage. I went to visit him soon after the operation only to discover he had already been released. Then I called him on his cell phone and learned he was already home --and that he had driven there himself.

Another professor, a former head of a unit, collapsed on the treadmill during his daily workout at the Hebrew University gym. Within five minutes, the Magen David Intensive Care ambulance arrived and the paramedics began treating him for cardiac arrest. In a procedure known as therapeutic hypothermia, Dr. Arthur Pollak, Director of our Intensive Cardiac Care Unit, and his colleagues immediately reduced the patient's body temperature significantly to help prevent further damage. Two days later, when his temperature was brought back to normal, he was clearly functioning well. He was released from Hadassah four weeks later after undergoing open heart surgery and has resumed his normal routine, including teaching in our Medical School.

A third professor, an Israel Prize winner, is alive today because he had the “good fortune” to be brought to our Trauma Unit after being hit by a truck while riding his bicycle with his son. When he arrived, his condition was clearly very serious and he was rushed to the operating room where he underwent very complex surgery to repair the damage to his body. He was then transferred to our General Intensive Care Unit, where he recovered sufficiently to begin rehabilitation. I inquired about his condition and was told he is doing well. I am sure he is looking forward to returning to academic life and bicycling with his children once again.

I can state with reasonable certainty that these three men--and many others --would not have recovered without Hadassah. Hadassahmade those miracles possible.

We are currently engaged in another type of recovery equally challenging. We are negotiating an agreement with the government of Israel to ensure that our Medical Center will continue to function as a center of medical excellence. The framework is already in place and I am optimistic that the Recovery Plan will be finalized by the end of the year. This is a tripartite agreement between the Government, the Hadassah Medical Organization and, of course, our owners--Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America.

As complex and as difficult as these discussions have been, I know for a fact that the implementation of the agreement and our Recovery Plan will be even more so. To be effective, we have to cut expenses, streamline our systems and increase our income. And all this cannot happen without the agreement of Hadassah's unions.

The road ahead will be long and demanding, filled with many potential obstacles and possibly even land mines. Yet, I believe our doctors, nurses and employees are ready to contribute to the recovery effort; that they are prepared to give up part of their salaries and lay off some of their staff to make this possible.

It may be Hanukkah, but we are not relying on miracles. Just as we have made Hadassah a world-class medical center, so we have to save our hospital by ourselves, investing all our energies to ensure it continues to provide outstanding medical care and to conduct superlative research.

I am proud of the miracles our staff perform every day on both our campuses, of the cutting-edge research that is being carried out throughout our Medical Center and of the outstanding education and guidance we are providing to the next generation of physicians. Most of all, I am determined that--together with you and all who hold Hadassah dear--we will assure that Hadassah continues to be the finest hospital in Israel for decades to come.

May you and your families have a joyous Hanukkah and a festive Thanksgiving, celebrating both the lives Hadassah has saved and the miracles that together we have made possible.

Avigdor Kaplan, PhD

Date: 11/27/2013
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