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Pediatric Intensive Care at Hadassah Hospital-Ein Kerem: Doubling the Capacity

The Hadassah University Medical Center is expanding its Pediatric Intensive Care Unit to ensure that more children are treated with the highest quality acute care in a setting that matches the excellence of the treatment.

Two-year-old Mussa* of East Jerusalem was hospitalized at Hadassah to repair a large congenital hole between the two main chambers of his heart. Normally, the two heart chambers are separated by a muscular wall called a septum.

Mussa had been followed by a local cardiology team, working in cooperation with Hadassah. When it was time for him to undergo cardiac surgery, the team turned to Hadassah's specialists. The surgery involved removing part of the membrane covering the child's heart and using it as a periocardial patch.

Following the surgical procedure, a special echocardiography examination confirmed that the operation was a success. Surgeons closed Mussa's chest and Mussa was transferred to Hadassah's PICU, where he was closely monitored and recovered from his surgery. If the hole in Mussa's heart had not been closed, he would have developed severe cyanotic heart disease--Eisenmenger syndrome --in which irreversible damage occurs to the lung vessels. Now, however, Mussa will grow up free of any cardiac symptoms, with the expectation of a normal life span.

Six month-old Jacob* was born with cranial synostrosis, where the connections between different skull bones prematurely grew and fused. This condition limited the ability of his brain to develop in the proper symmetrical manner, leading to pressure on his brain, as well as possible malfunction of the brain and skull.

Dr. Mony Benifla, Director of Hadassah's Pediatric Neurosurgery Service, performed the necessary surgical procedure. "Most of tiny Jacob's skull bones had to be cut and rebuilt--almost like a puzzle," explains Dr. Benifla. Plastic Surgeon Dr. Margolis stepped in to complete the delicate procedure.

Following two days in Hadassah's PICU and six days in the Pediatric Surgery Unit, Jacob was able to go home, free of neurological defects. Even the appearance of his skull was aesthetically fine!

Hadassah's current 8-bed PICU on the 4th floor of the Charlotte R. Bloomberg Mother and Child Center functions at full capacity around the clock, treating between 450-500 patients annually. It is the principal center for medical care and post-surgical intensive care for critically ill babies and children from the entire greater area of Jerusalem--which includes over one million people. Children are also referred to Hadassah's PICU from other parts of Israel and other countries as well.

As Hadassah's Pediatric Department has expanded its Pediatric Neurosurgery and Pediatric Cardiology expertise, the demand for PICU services has increased greatly since acute care is an integral part of the treatment process in these highly specialized fields.

The new PICU, to be located on the seventh floor of the Charlotte R. Bloomberg Mother and Children Center, will add eight fully equipped patient beds--doubling the size of Pediatric Intensive Care at Hadassah.

The PICU will serve a broad age range of children--from newborn to age 16. Children with head trauma and multiple traumas; those who have undergone surgery to correct a wide variety of congenital defects, including various heart and neurological problems; and children who undergo bone marrow transplantations will all be cared for in the new PICU.

In Hadassah's Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, critically ill babies and young children lie in incubators and patient bays, connected to sophisticated electronic instruments that save, sustain, and monitor their lives. An ultra-Orthodox Jewish woman sits with her unconscious 11-year-old daughter. Nearby, a Muslim woman from Hebron sings quietly to her young baby who has just undergone cardiac surgery. Also nearby, a father--a new immigrant from the Former Soviet Union--strokes the hand of his daughter, whose liver tumor was recently removed.

These parents, from different walks of life, different religions, and different nationalities sit together in the PICU, experiencing similar concerns for the well being of their critically sick child. As they interact respectfully with one another and with Hadassah's multicultural personnel, they discover each other's humanity and bridges to peace are built.

Together these parents share the hope that their children will soon recover and the knowledge that Hadassah's professional team is providing their child with the highest level of life-saving care available.

*Names changed to protect child's privacy

Date: 9/12/2011

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