President’s Column: It’s All in the Family
The Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower, which opened March 19 on our Ein Kerem campus in Jerusalem, was a grand project from the start, a $363-million medical facility. From the moment we broke ground, we have spoken with pride about what would be the most modern hospital building in Israel. What we saw on moving-in day fulfilled our highest expectations.
Israel is a world leader in technology, so we would have expected nothing less than a high-tech hospital. But here’s the thing: I think the sofas in the new tower say as much about Hadassah and about Israel as do the 19 floors of pristine modernity and the soothing, environmentally friendly healing gardens.
It’s common in Israeli hospitals for at least one family member to spend the night with a patient. Propped up in chairs or curled up on the floor, the all-night visitors give an extra dimension to the term “loved one.” By placing sofas in every patient room, we have made our new facility not only state-of-the-art but also state-of-the-culture.
Hadassah did more than anyone to build Israel as a caring society. Our doctors are among the best in the world, but our experience also teaches us that the best hospital for patients is the one that is most welcoming, and most comforting, to their families.
Our culture and history were on display as the doors opened on March 19. As I symbolically handed the keys to the tower to Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, I thought about past moving-in days—moves that were part of epic waves in our history.
The opening of the original Mount Scopus Hospital in 1939 was the culmination of the effort that had started with two nurses, created a movement and built a great medical center in the middle of the Great Depression. The move to Ein Kerem in 1961 came after Israel’s struggle for independence, the massacre of 78 Hadassah personnel in a convoy heading to the hospital and, finally, losing the hospital in the drawing of armistice lines. The return to Mount Scopus in 1976 followed Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War and extensive renovation. As I handed those keys to Mayor Barkat, many people in attendance remembered Charlotte Jacobson, then Hadassah’s national president, receiving the keys to Scopus after Israeli troops retook our building.
But there was something different this time. Though we were every bit as dedicated as previous generations, it was not an epic wave of history that led to our building the Davidson Tower. Rather than “epic,” I would call the forces that led to construction something closer to “normal.”
The tower is a result less of cataclysmic historic change and more of the normal aging of an older medical facility, the growth of a nation and the speed of technological development. It is a sign of Israel’s maturity.
And given that the other buildings on the Ein Kerem campus—of which the new tower is now the anchor—are still in place, we are able to stage the integration of various departments over a year and a half. Seven departments will occupy the tower during 2012, with the remainder coming in during 2013.
The appreciation of the patients who moved in that first day, as well as their families, was palpable. What stood out for me were the beautiful texture of the Jerusalem stone walls, the expanses of glass that bring in so much light and the amazing views of Jerusalem. But more than the atmosphere, the patients spoke most appreciatively about our incredible doctors.
And I’m sure that in the long run, the view the patients and families will savor most is that of one another, between hospital bed and sofa, during the night. As much as anything else, that is Hadassah’s gift to the people of Israel in our Centennial year.