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Hadassah: The Ultimate Start-Up

Diary of a Director General
Dr. Ehud Kokia

Dear Family and Friends of Hadassah,

With the publication of Start-Up Nation, the phrase has become synonymous with Israeli imagination and invention. Yet long before this informative book was published, long before computers became commonplace, even long before Israel was founded, the Hadassah Medical Organization fashioned the template for healthcare start-ups. The network of medical clinics and hospitals that Hadassah established in the 1920s and 30s forged the framework for Israel's healthcare system. Hadassah's achievements are extraordinary – from the decision to send two public health nurses to Jerusalem in 1912 to the dedication of the Sarah Wetsman Hospital Tower ten decades later.   

As we await the arrival of the Centennial Convention participants, I find myself thinking about the Hadassah women – and men – who provided the legendary leadership that transformed a small public health station in the Old City of Jerusalem into a world-renowned academic medical center. I wish they could be with us this week to witness what we have accomplished in the past 100 years. I hope that those of you who could not join us on this historic occasion will soon make the journey to Jerusalem and give us the privilege of welcoming you to Hadassah.

This coming week we will officially dedicate the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower and highlight some of our clinical and research achievements. Even as we walk through our amazing new building, visit some of the departments and meet some of the doctors and nurses, there is so much more I would like to tell you – so much more there is to show you; so much amazing research progress to describe – so many outstanding medical professionals to introduce.

I wish there were time to take all of you to Hadassah-Mt. Scopus to see the renovated Pediatric Departments; to have you meet some of the children and their parents in the Eli Douer Family Center for Pediatric Genetic and Chronic Diseases and give you a chance to hear about the latest developments in the Center for Computer-Guided Joint Replacement Surgery.

Here at Hadassah-Ein Kerem, I would like you to have the chance to meet more of the outstanding men and women who have received prestigious research grants, published their research results in leading medical journals and still provide our patients outstanding care, applying what they have learned in their laboratories to the patients they treat.

I wish we could walk through the Charlotte R. Bloomberg Mother and Child Center and other buildings on the campus, so you could see our experts at work and hear from the surgeons, ophthalmologists, dermatologists, internal medicine experts, neurologists, anesthesiologists, critical care specialists and hundreds of outstanding nurses who save the lives of the children and adults that are being cared for in our hospitals. I would like to have all our experts in genetics tell you about the genes and mutations they have discovered, the families that are receiving helpful guidance and the healthy babies that are being born thanks to sophisticated pre-implantation genetic diagnosis.

Then we could stop for a minute for a visit to the Goldyne Savad Institute of Gene Therapy and the Sidney and Judy Swartz Human Embryonic Stem Cells Research Center. Inside these sophisticated laboratories it is difficult to ascertain exactly what the scientists and researchers are doing with their microscopes and test tubes, but there is no mistaking their intensity as each concentrates on the project at hand. Gene and stem cell therapy are the promise of the future. They hold the potential to create novel treatments – and even cures – for conditions and diseases that currently afflict millions of people around the world. For some of them, however – those with Age-Related Macular Degeneration and some neurodegenerative diseases – the future is much nearer than we could have imagined. The clinical trials we are conducting for treatments for those conditions – and many, many others – bring the promise of hope closer than we could have imagined.

There are other stops to make and other important people to consider – among them the outstanding maintenance, administrative and paramedical staff – the people who work quietly and efficiently to ensure that our hospitals function around the clock, every day of the year.

Our Medical Center is full of seemingly endless corridors, many elevators and hidden stairways. All of them lead to dedicated professionals, working endless hours in a rigorous effort to combat the diseases that affect their patients. Countless nooks and crannies contain researchers and physicians focusing on familiar problems – and sometimes on those that are relatively unknown. Down the hall and through the revolving door of the main building, we will find the Center for Innovative Surgery and the Surgery and Critical Care Research Laboratory. A walk in the other direction will bring us to the operating rooms – and the one devoted exclusively to robotic surgery. In the next few months, they will move to the Surgical Center in the Davidson Tower where there will be operating rooms exclusively for some of the other sophisticated procedures we perform, along with many specifically for general surgery.

Another few twists and turns down the hall and a few flights of stairs will bring us to the Cancer Center where oncology, hematology and bone marrow transplantation patients receive lifesaving therapies. Once considered fatal, many of their conditions are now classified as chronic, yet all of them require concerted and dedicated attention to ensure these deadly diseases are contained.   

Travel with me just a short distance – to the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gonenim, the nearby village of Abu Gosh and the city of Beit Shemesh. Meet the volunteers and professionals in our Women’s Health Center there as they work together to address women’s health issues and promote a healthy lifestyle.

I could describe many more exciting locations and destinations in our Hadassah Medical Organization – the talented people who work here and the medical challenges they are attempting to overcome – but then you would need a year, if not a hundred years, to see them all – and you're only coming for one week.

The world has changed dramatically in the last 100 years. Inventions and innovations that were once considered the stuff of science fiction are now ordinary aspects of our everyday lives – with new and amazing developments occurring almost daily.

“The more things change, the more they stay the same,” a French novelist wrote. Hadassah has changed – and continues to change – with the times. Yet, the more things have changed, our values and our mission have remained the same as they were a century ago. We are proud to proclaim our commitment to the health and well-being of the community, to providing outstanding care within the walls of our Medical Center, to conducting world-class scientific research and to educating and training the next generation of healthcare professionals. Most of all we are proud of our enduring partnership with Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America – the women of Hadassah in the United States – the men of Hadassah Associates, the men and women of Hadassah International and the members of Hadassah Israel here at home as together we embrace the next 100 years.

Yours,
Ehud

 

Date: 10/10/2012 12:00:00 AM


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