Israel's 'City of Health' inspires the world
May 17, 2019
(JNS) Exactly 71 years ago, as Jewish pioneers fought for Israel’s independence, a military hospital was created to treat soldiers wounded on the battlefield.
That moment marked the beginning of a new story for a determined people and a promising future for a nation. Just as the State of Israel has evolved into the vibrant and successful country it is today, that military hospital would evolve into what is now Israel’s national hospital, Sheba Medical Center.
Today, Sheba Medical Center has expanded from old army barracks to a sprawling 200-acre campus. The hospital represents the determination of the Jewish people to not only persevere, but to seek peace, and to excel—just like the State of Israel.
And to peacefully excel means to embrace two driving forces: humanitarianism and medical innovation.
In Israel, and in the entire Middle East, every aspect of life is political. Water, land, agriculture, sports and even music can be divisive issues. There is one exception: medicine.
While at Sheba, our incredibly compassionate and highly skilled 9,000 employees have the privilege of being immune to the divisiveness of politics. Instead, they are fully devoted to eliminating barriers and treating all patients indiscriminately and equally.
On any given day, our doctors and nurses, who come from every background imaginable, may treat children or adults who are Palestinian, Syrian, Kurdish, Christian, Druze or Jewish. Where they come from doesn’t matter. Nothing changes that dynamic, even if missiles are fired into Israel by radical factions who would wish to destroy our oasis of peace. Our doors are open to any patient, regardless of gender, ethnicity, religion, nationality or identity.
We treat those who have been taught that the Jewish state shouldn’t exist. And when you save the lives of sick children, their parents can’t really hate you anymore.
It is a humbling experience to witness how our team is genuinely fostering peace through medicine. But it’s not enough to simply provide health care to everyone. We must be sure to provide the best possible care. And that is where Israel’s famous ingenuity and innovation comes into play.
In Hebrew, the word for hospital is beit cholim, which translated literally means “house of the sick.” This concept of only caring for the sick is now antiquated.
We have not only eliminated political borders, but we have also shed the traditional structure and the notion that a hospital’s only responsibility is taking care of the sick and then discharging them.
We are now a “City of Health” that embraces a full-fledged continuum of care.
We wholeheartedly take on the responsibility for a patient’s full recovery, providing personalized care focused on prevention, treatment and rehabilitation.
We are immersed in various open innovation platforms where ideas are no longer confined by old concepts; this has resulted in new cutting-edge treatments and cures.
Our expert medical researchers are partnering with innovative startups, combining their respective areas of expertise to push the boundaries of medical innovation. It’s a cross-section of new ideas, medical wisdom and, of course, Israeli chutzpah. The results translate into more lives saved.
Because of our global reach and our role as the epicenter of innovation in Israeli medicine, Sheba Medical Center was recently recognized by Newsweek as one of the top 10 hospitals in the world. This achievement was not only a proud moment for our Sheba family, but for the entire State of Israel.
As the tiny Jewish nation and Sheba Medical Center celebrate their 71st birthdays, we remember our humble beginnings and recommit to continuing to push the limits as pioneering forces for good.
Professor Yitshak Kreiss is the director general of Israel’s Sheba Medical Center, Tel HaShomer, the largest hospital in the Middle East and a global medical research powerhouse.