The terror attack on a Jerusalem bus stop on March 23 provided a vivid illustration of the importance of the Hadassah Medical Organization and the new Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower to the Israeli people. Within minutes of the blast, Hadassah's two hospitals were ready to treat the injured. Emergency rooms were evacuated; equipment was prepared; gurneys were brought outside to receive patients; and, of course, Hadassah's medical personnel were on site, waiting to receive and treat the injured.

Thirty-five people were brought to Hadassah: 18 went to Mount Scopus; 17 came to Ein Kerem. All of them received expert care.

From its founding, Hadassah has recognized and acted on the need to build emergency facilities to treat victims of war, terrorism and other types of trauma. Since September 2000, more than half of the nearly 6,000 people wounded in terror attacks have been brought to Hadassah University Medical Center. Many of them have required immediate trauma treatment, adding a substantial number of patients to the hospital's annual intake of nearly 1,200 people injured in road and household accidents. As a result, the doctors at Hadassah have gained unparalleled experience in treating people suffering from trauma, and surgeons and trauma experts frequently turn to Hadassah to learn from our expertise, especially in treating victims of terror.

That expertise was abundantly clear on March 23.

The new Tower both continues and expands Hadassah's tradition of emergency preparedness. In fact, recognizing Hadassah's unique combination of experience and ability, the government of Israel has declared Hadassah's Medical Center a strategic site, and the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower incorporates numerous design features that ensure its ability to function as a world-class Emergency Preparedness Hospital.

The Tower's Surgical Center, which includes 20 operating theaters, is located underground on Lower Level 4. This floor has been constructed with a variety of special features in order to enable surgery to continue without interruption and patients to be moved to protected areas in the event of conventional or unconventional attack. The Tower's intensive care units, located above ground on Floors 2, 3 and 12 also have protected areas where patients can be moved.

Our immediate goal is to open the Surgical Center's operating rooms along with the surgical intensive care beds, surgical departments and their protected areas in March 2012. Opening these areas together with the main entrance floor, three inpatient floors and two administrative/service floors will serve patients and staff because surgical patients will not need to be moved from one campus building to another. This goal, however, also is tied to a larger imperative.

For centuries, Jerusalem has been a prize, argued and fought over by many. Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and the home of the country's most prominent government institutions and top cultural and artistic organizations. But, as the March 23 attack clearly shows, Jerusalem also faces threats, even during times of relative tranquility. The completion of the Sarah Wetsman Hospital Tower represents not only a major accomplishment for Hadassah's medical care, but meets a critical strategic need of Jerusalem and Israel. The Tower is a building that says Jerusalem will stand, Israel will live and medicine will act as a bridge to peace.

For those who specifically want to support the Tower as an Emergency Preparedness Hospital, there are a variety of giving opportunities available, including: operating theaters for $1.5 million each; a variety of units in the Department of Anesthesiology on Lower Level 2, each priced at $500,000; and patient bays for $150,000 each.

For more information about emergency services or available giving opportunities related to emergency care, please call the Tower Campaign office at 800.988.0685 or email towercampaign@hadassah.org.