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A Tale From the ER

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Joyce Backman

Within the world of Hadassah, in the United States we regularly hear that Hadassah takes care of all people regardless of race, religion or national origin. As Americans doing the work of Hadassah we assume the stories we hear are true. We also hear that the Hadassah employees are warm and welcoming and treat patients with respect and dignity. Can a hospital be that special? What is it really like at Hadassah Hospital?

I could never have imagined how I would find out the answer to that question.

My husband and two children, Spencer 8, Katie 5, were in Jerusalem for Shabbat. We were planning on celebrating with fellow Hadassah members, who we were with on the Center for Emergency Medicine Dedication Mission. Just the day before, we had been at Ein Kerem visiting the New Center for Emergency Medicine. We marveled at the thick walls, the triage rooms and the computers. Construction was still in progress but patients were being treated and the Emergency Center was open.

The kids were dressed in their Shabbat clothing and playing on their beds in the adjoining hotel room when all of sudden we heard crying. My husband I ran to their room and saw that our daughter was holding her arm and crying. She had dislocated her elbow while climbing on and off the bed. Dislocation, a common injury in children under seven, is called nursemaids elbow. My husband is a doctor and I am a nurse, however from past experience (last time in Disney World) we knew that we would be unable to pull our daughters arm in the appropriate manner to get the dislocated elbow back in place, because of the pain involved in performing the procedure.

We asked a young woman on our Mission to watch our son Spencer and take him for dinner and we hailed a cab for Ein Kerem. The cab driver noticed how I was holding Katie, and that every bump in the road caused her to whimper. He told us that in his spare time he is a Magen David Adom driver and promptly took out his siren/light and placed it on the roof of the cab. The streets were empty because Shabbat had started, and the siren was not really necessary, but we appreciated the gesture.

Upon our arrival at the New Center for Emergency Medicine, my husband was checking us in. I was holding Katie and she was very uncomfortable, whimpering every time I shifted my weight. There were no seats at registration. A security guard sitting near us got up and gestured for me to sit in his chair. Gratefully, I accepted and sat down while still holding Katie.

After registration we are taken to the Pediatric waiting area. There were seats, but none together. With a gesture, a man sitting there, offered us his chair and moved over so we could sit together.

While we were waiting for Katie to be seen, we started chatting with other parents in the waiting area. We spoke with an Orthodox woman who had recently made Aliyah from Canada (her son severed his finger prior to Shabbat) and another family, who appeared to be modern, with the mother wearing designer jeans and heels.

What I had heard about warm and welcoming employees at Hadassah truly became a reality.

When we were taken to an exam room we were met by a female medical resident who spoke English very well. Katie was pre-medicated by a nurse and we waited about an hour for the medication to take effect before the resident twisted/pulled her arm back in place. The procedure itself took less than 30 seconds. Because Katie had been pre-medicated she had not cried very much.

While waiting for our discharge papers, the security guard, who had offered me his chair, walked by. He pointed to Katie and smiled and saw she was ok. He told us that he had emigrated from Russia and he speaks 5 languages but English was not one of them. He apologized for not speaking English (ironically in English) and posed for a picture with Katie. We never got his name yet we have his picture. We went back to the hotel, Katie was fine and we enjoyed the rest of our trip.

From the moment of her injury people helped us: the woman who watched Spencer; the ambulance driver; the man who moved over in the waiting area so we could sit together; and the nurse and the doctor. We were treated with respect and dignity for a minor injury. The one person that stood out in our minds, and still does years later, was the security guard. He saw that sitting would make Katie more comfortable and put the patients

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