|A Friday Story|
I'm very proud of what we have built," said Charlotte R. Bloomberg at the 2007 dedication of the Mother and Child Center that bears her name. Mrs. Bloomberg passed away this week at the age of 102, but her name lives on here at Hadassah.
Reticent and retiring, Mrs. Bloomberg often chose to have her son, New York Michael R. Bloomberg, speak for her as she did after she unveiled the lettering on the side of the building, his gift to her on her 95th birthday. We were moved by his words and the very special way he chose to honor his mother. "At 91, Hadassah is almost as old as my mother," ￼ New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. "She grew up with Hadassah and has always had a special connection with Israel and with Hadassah."
Many people – expectant parents, worried families and sick children from throughout Israel and beyond – have benefited from Mrs. Bloomberg's special connection. Warm, welcoming and child-friendly, the seven floors that soar above the atrium lobby and the two floors below, provide almost every conceivable aspect of maternity and pediatric care.
These days, the seventh floor is the focus of much of our activity as we continue to expand our services. About a year ago, the Department of Pediatric Cardiology headed by Prof. Azaria Rein, moved into its new offices there – and about six months ago, Dr. Eldad Erez, Director of Congenital Heart Surgery, joined the team. With these two specialists, we are now even better prepared to treat children with heart diseases and conditions, both congenital and acquired.
A graduate of the Technion's Faculty of Health Science, Dr. Erez returned to Israel after six years as Associate Professor of Surgery in the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the University of North Texas' Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas.
"I came to Hadassah," he says, "because I knew that here we would be able to build something and I could contribute the most advanced approach." Together, he and Prof. Rein diagnose children with heart problems and decide on the best approach to treating them – surgically or medically. He and Prof. Rein also see pregnant women whose doctors think their unborn baby might be have a cardiac problem. "Congenital difficulties can be identified early in utero," Dr. Erez says. "The earlier we know, the better the team can plan when to intervene."
The children who require surgery fall into two groups, Dr. Erez explains. Some have malfunctioning organs that can be surgically repaired. Premature babies, for example, are often born with an artery that should have closed by birth, but didn't. Babies whose hearts are not completely developed at birth face a more difficult time. Surgery can help, but the impact on their lives is more drastic.
Not all of Dr. Erez's young patients are newborns – many are children whose problems were just discovered or those returning for additional surgery. His team includes a pediatric anesthesiologist, a nurse-practitioner, a social worker and a teacher who helps prepare children of different ages for surgery.
On the other side of the floor, we are in the process of expanding our Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) for all children who have undergone surgery, not just cardiology patients, and those with serious and complex conditions. Headed by Dr. Ido Yatsiv, the new eight-bed PICU will be a welcome addition to the eight-bed unit on the fourth floor, which already functions at full capacity every single day of the year, around the clock.
The Seventh Floor PICU will be dedicated primarily to Pediatric Cardiology, Pediatric Cardiac Surgery and Pediatric Neurosurgery, another new department, headed by another welcome addition to our staff, Dr. Mony Benifla. The Fourth Floor PICU will handle children with medical problems, multiple traumas, and children from the Department of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology. Located on the fifth floor of the Charlotte R. Bloomberg Mother and Child Center, Hadassah's Pediatric Hematology-Oncology Department is the largest and only medical facility in Jerusalem where children can undergo bone marrow transplantation.
If you were to walk through the building's many pediatric departments with me, you would see the diversity of our patient population, and the love and care all the children receive, the special decorations that brighten their rooms and their days, the classrooms and therapy rooms where they learn and play. In the maternity department, you would see our traditional state-of-the-art delivery rooms and our newer birthing suites, the attention we lavish on the babies in our nurseries and neonatal intensive care unit and the special care women with high-risk pregnancies receive.
On the second floor, you would see a birthing process of a different kind in the Goldyne Savad Institute for Gene Therapy, the Sidney and Judy Swartz Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research Center and the Division of Research and Development. This is where ideas are born and nurtured, just like the babies and children on the other floors of the building. And when they mature, many of the ideas that are gestating here will provide a better future for the generations to come.
During her two visits to Hadassah, Charlotte R. Bloomberg was enthusiastic about what she saw and excited about how Hadassah had grown since she first became involved – when she and Hadassah were both quite a bit younger. Although she is no longer with us, our Charlotte R. Bloomberg Mother and Child Center will always remind us of her desire "to be part of something that makes this world better." We will continue to strive to be worthy of her legacy.
This week, with the passing of Howard Kaplan, we at Hadassah lost another dear friend and ardent advocate. At least once a year we would welcome Howard and Marlene – and their family, friends and the community leaders they brought to see Hadassah. And at least twice a year, I would see them in Chicago or at Hadassah functions in the United States. A leader in his community and the immediate Past-President of the National Committee of Hadassah Associates, I like to think of him as "Mr. Hadassah," so strongly did he support our efforts and Marlene's involvement on the National Board. He will be sorely missed.