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Henrietta Szold - Health Pioneer (Part 7)

The Founder’s Role in Hadassah’s Medical Program
By Anna Tulin

From the heart of the city of Jerusalem to what is now called Kiryat Hadassah in the Judean hills is a distance of about five kilometers, or three miles. For most of that distance a special road has been carved out of the rocks of the Judean hills. That road has been named the Henrietta Szold Road, and it leads to the great new Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center.

It is most appropriate and highly symbolic that that road should be called the Derech Henrietta Szold, for it was Henrietta Szold and her ideas that blazed the trail for Hadassah and led Hadassah to its greatest achievement - the new Medical Center at Kiryat Hadassah.
Miss Szold's letters disclose how the thought of a Hadassah Hospital and modern hospital facilities germinated and developed in her mind in the earlydays of the [American Zionist] Medical Unit some forty years ago.  The idea appears first in a letter to Alice Seligsberg dated January 24, 1919.  In that letter, Miss Szold remarked almost wistfully, "How lovely it would be to remember the name of Hadassah and the early work of Hadassah byattaching it to a children's hospital."

Two short years later, Miss Szold's thoughts on this subject became crystalized.  She then, in 1921, wrote Dr. Harry Friedenwald of Baltimore in these words: "We, the Unit, shall never reach the heights to which for other reasons we might aspire, unless we have modern hospital buildings."  This clear realization of Hadassah's need for modem hospital facilities was based on her actual experience since the arrival of the Hadassah [more correctly, the American Zionist] Medical Unit in Palestine.  From that time on, Miss Szold devoted her vision and talent for leadership to the successful meeting of that need, first in the beautiful modern hospital which was erected on Mount Scopus in Miss Szold's lifetime, and finally, after the tragic loss of that hospital in the War of Independence in 1948, and after years of further planning and efforts by Miss Szold's devoted successors and the hundreds of thousands of women of Hadassah, in the erection of the great new Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center at Kiryat Hadassah, which was dedicated on August 3rd, 1960.

Here is the tribute which Prime Minister David Ben Gurion paid to Miss Szold on that great occasion:

"Every achievement of Hadassah and every meeting with its members brings back to me first of all the memory of the great and radiant personality of Henrietta Szold, who was not only the greatest woman American Jewry has yet produced, but undoubtedly one of the noblest personalities of our generation. If Hadassah has earned the right to the name of the largest organization, not only among women, but in the entire Jewish Community of America, there is no doubt that a major share in the credit must go to its founder. But I am certain that Henrietta Szold herself would have been the first to protest with all the force of her moral integrity against the ascription of all Hadassah's achievements to a single individual, no matter how illustrious. And so, when I speak of Henrietta Szold's greatness, I have no intention to minimize in any way the great achievements of Hadassah's members and their distinguished leaders of today . . .

"Today we are taking part in the dedication of one of Hadassah's greatest enterprises - which is also one of the finest undertakings in Israel: the buildings of the Medical Center." . . . .

This Medical Center is located on a site of 800 dunams of land (200 acres) on a high ridge above the ancient village of Ein Karem. The site is large enough to allow for the possible expansion of the Medical Center and also for a housing development to be connected with it.

The site was suggested by Prime Minister David Ben Gurion at a time when it seemed to be far out in the rocky wilderness away from the city of Jerusalem; but Mr. Ben Gurion assured Hadassah that the city would soon grow out to that location. And this is exactly what is happening.

Of course there were no public utilities on the site.  Hadassah had to bring water, electricity, telephone, power, to build roads and other requirements of a modern city to the area. The Medical Center is assured of an adequate water supply under all circumstances because no less than five artificial lakes or reservoirs have been provided.  Hadassah also built a large sewage-disposal plant at a cost in excess of a half million dollars, as well as an electric sub-station sufficiently large to cope with any emergency needs.  Indeed, the water supply, the sewage-disposal plant, and the electric sub-station are large enough to meet not only the requirements of the present Medical Center, but also of its possible expansion in the future, and of a proposed nearby housing development.

In the design of the Medical Center, the architect, Mr. Joseph Neufeld, has successfully blended the Center into its splendid mountain background. He has done so by using building materials which are indigenous to the area: Jerusalem sandstone with its beautiful pinks, reds and oranges, [and] both white and red bricks which are manufactured out of the local clays nearby. Out of these colorful materials, the architect has designed buildings which are supremely functional so as to facilitate in every possible way the manifold activities of a most modern Medical Center. These buildings are so oriented as to receive the full benefit of the cooling west wind which constantly blows from the Mediterranean.

Sixteen of the buildings are already constructed, or nearing completion.  Five more buildings are planned and will be erected at an early date. When completed, all these buildings together will offer for use over 100,000 square metres of space, or about 1,100,000 square feet. They will constitute the largest complex of buildings of this kind, not only in Israel but in the entire Middle East. Indeed, the buildings already are constructed do so now.

This complex construction, when completed, will include all the buildings pertaining to the Hadassah Hospital and its various services, for which Hadassah is financially responsible, and also the buildings of the associated Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School, for the erection of which the Hebrew University is financially responsible. The buildings already constructed, or nearing completion, are:

1. The Henrietta Szold-Hadassah School of Nursing, named for Henrietta Szold. This is a five-story building containing living quarters for student nurses; laboratories, classrooms; administrative offices; courtyards; recreation rooms; and an infirmary. The building is connected both through the courtyards and through underground tunnels with the main buildings of the hospital.

2. The Clinical Diagnostic Laboratories, shared by Hadassah and the Hebrew University, and so located as to form a bridge between the clinical facilities of the hospital and the laboratories and research facilities of the Medical School.

3 and 4. The Rosensohn Out-Patient Clinic, occupying the better part of two integrated and coordinated buildings which are designed to provide diagnostic, examining, and treatment space in all of the major and minor medical and surgical specialties for approximately two hundred and fifty thousand out-patients a year.

5 and 6. Two main hospital buildings providing beds and facilities for five hundred in-patients. These buildings are inter-connected and serviced through one battery of elevators and a communications stack. The radial building has seven floors of nursing units in its upper seven stories, each nursing unit consisting of forty patients' beds in five eight-bed acute nursing stations, providing the most.integrated, coordinated and intensive facilities possible for the care of ill people. On the lower floors of this building are the operating suites, the dining facilities for the entire Medical Center in a magnificent, two-story dining room with [a] balcony and a beautiful large outside terrace; the central supply services, the pharmacy and the major mechanical equipment. The radial unit has an interior ventilating stack and an exterior balcony on all floors, thus providing an excellent means of ventilation.

The rectangular hospital building, which extends out as an L from the radial unit, and thus creates magnificent courtyards, is designed so that its upper five floors contain follow-up or less intensive nursing units, with the patient facilities in an interior core, and with outside corridors which can be used both as balconies for air and view, and also as service corridors, depending upon which way the prevailing winds may blow.

Below the upper five floors of the rectangular unit are several floors of diagnostic and service facilities; the department of diagnostic radiology; the department of therapeutic radiology; the department of physical medicine and rehabilitation, including occupational and physical therapy modalities; the main lobby of the hospital and the main lobby for the out-patient services; administrative offices; social services; admitting services; central medical record room; doctors' and nurses' lounges, and utilities of other types servicing the entire Medical Center.

The four lower levels of these two major buildings are underground and so designed as to provide space, facilities and utilities for [the] entire patient population and continued operation of the hospital in those lower levels in case the upper floors have to be [evacuated] because of an attack.

7. The emergency admission building is three stories high and connects the main hospital with the administration building. It also contains the laundry and kitchen on lower levels, in addition to the emergency admission department.

8. Administration Building. Extending on the north side of a courtyard which is the main access court to the important buildings of the Medical Center is the Administration Building of [the] Hadassah Medical Organization [(HMO)], containing all the HMO administrative facilities for the entire country. This building also contains rooms for interns, residents and technicians who must sleep overnight in the Medical Center to service the patients. Extending again to the north are the main access roads for delivery of supplies and equipment. These access roads enter a subterranean court, so that all supplies can be brought into the Medical Center in an emergency, without exposure. This building is named for the late Dr. Haim Yassky, Director General of HMO, who was killed on the road to Mt. Scopus, on April 13, 1948.

9. Boiler Plant. This building contains five large boilers which will furnish steam and heat for the entire Center.

10. Garage and Workshops. This building is large enough and is equipped to garage and service all cars and ambulances needed in the work of the Center.

11. Synagogue. The Medical Center will have a beautiful Synagogue. The stained-glass windows were designed by the famous Jewish artist, Marc Chagall. Each window will symbolize one of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. It is expected that these windows will be installed, and the Synagogue dedicated, in 1961.  [actual date of dedication was in February, 1962]

12. Morgue. The autopsy and morgue facilities are below the ground level and are connected by an underground passageway with all the major buildings of the Medical Center.

13 and 14. Electrical Sub-Station and Sewage Disposal Plant. The electrical sub-station is housed in a special building designed to accommodate the power plant. The sewage disposal plant is also a separate unit, away from the large complex of other buildings.

15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 and 21. Medical School.  The Medical School will consist of five buildings with the necessary classrooms, laboratories, administration offices, an auditorium, and all other requisite facilities.

In addition, the Hebrew University intends to erect two other buildings to house a School of Dentistry and a School of Pharmacology, respectively.
The entire Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center is surrounded by beautifully landscaped grounds, designed by Lawrence Halprin of San Francisco.

About seventeen hundred people will be employed in and about the Center in its various activities. This, of course, will include doctors, nurses, laboratory technicians, as well as the medical faculty of the Medical School. The number of in-patients in the hospital at any one time is expected to be about five hundred. In addition, it is expected that an average number of eight hundred out-patients will be treated daily in the Rosensohn Out-Patient Clinic.

The Center will also house and provide facilities for about one thousand students: medical, dental, pharmaceutical, nursing, occupational therapy, etc. In addition, the Center will necessarily provide facilities for about three hundred volunteer women through Ya’al (the “Helping Hand of Hadassah”) and the inevitably large number of visitors that any large hospital must expect.

Hadassah's share of the capital cost of this great undertaking will be about $22,000,000, of which $15,500,000 has already been raised and some six and one-half [million] still remain[s] to be raised. The cost of maintenance of this great new Medical Center will also run into millions, annually. It takes vision and courage for Hadassah to assume the burden and responsibility of these great costs.

But in this connection the words Henrietta Szold wrote to Alice Seligsberg on January 24th, 1919, are peculiarly applicable:

“ … We have always known that when our hopes are realized, our responsibilities will weigh heavily upon us. Just now I must confess to you that I tremble most of the time when I look ahead, but I console myself with the thought that one does not dream for two thousand years steadily and then have the dream come true without having the strength to live in accordance with the high ideals that made the beauty of the dream."

Date: 1/17/2011 12:00:00 AM

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