Gaining a Fresh Perspective for Life in Israel

After having spent the summer as a visiting professor at Johns Hopkins University, it is now time for me to return to Haifa and my responsibilities at Rambam Health Care Campus. Not only did I have the opportunity to meet with friends and colleagues from a variety of disciplines and locales, but I gained a fresh appreciation for life in Israel.

I discovered many similarities between Johns Hopkins University and Rambam Health Care Campus. The world of both is centered around medicine and humanity. Both have a mission to treat diseases and to offer the best medical care possible to all. Central to their mission is educating future generations of health care givers — physicians, nurses, and allied health professionals.

Likewise, both institutions put a great deal of effort into basic and applied research, because it leads to better medical care, innovation, and the development of new devices and drugs. Both Johns Hopkins and Rambam are renowned for their research work. Given the history of Johns Hopkins, research excellence is expected. Yet many people are surprised to learn that Rambam has been a leader in basic and applied research for years. Why? Rambam is situated within the very frontier of research and development, with Israel being known worldwide by many as the medical startup nation. Without exception, Rambam’s slogan, ”Creating the Future of Medicine,” drives us forward in the quest for excellence in medicine through research.

Finally, Rambam and Baltimore hospitals, the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins, all have recognized trauma centers. Visiting the Shock Trauma Center here in Baltimore, a model for excellence, is an exciting and memorable experience. Likewise, Rambam’s Level 1 trauma center is internationally renowned. We treat more trauma patients than any other facility in Israel, and have the highest percentage of trauma survivors in the nation. We also have a unique Teaching Center for Trauma, Emergency, and Mass Casualty Situations—to date we have trained more than 3,000 healthcare professionals from 61 nations.

Both Rambam and Johns Hopkins intertwine medicine, technology, and humanity. There are differences, however — based on geography and politics. These differences demand a great deal of our people. Truthfully, I am thankful that the people of Baltimore do not face the challenges we face. Nevertheless, those challenges force us to excel in ways that stir the heart and challenge us to hope for a better world.

We at Rambam care for our neighbors across the border. Medicine has no borders and every day, we are caring for people from the Palestinian Authority, Gaza, and even Syria. Just this week a Syrian child was discharged home, from Rambam. She had been brought here for traumatic war injuries. While being treated, our doctors discovered she had a blood disease that required a bone marrow transplant. However, the only potential donor was her brother — in Syria. The Israeli government stepped in and helped make her treatment happen. After seven months of medical care at Rambam she is finally going home. We are thankful to be a part of her healing, and we grieve at the challenges she faces in her war-torn nation.

There is one other thing where Haifa and Baltimore differ. The citizens of Baltimore have no memories of, or anticipation of, a war being fought within their own home turf. Here again, Rambam differs from Johns Hopkins by nature of necessity. The 2000-bed Sammy Ofer Fortified Underground Emergency Hospital—the largest facility of its kind in the world — is here, at Rambam. We hope this facility will never have to be used. Instead, we would like it to set a new paradigm for patient and staff safety in this uncertain world that we live in. May it set an example for preparedness for the world to follow.

It is all about caring for people in safety and security, and creating the future of medicine through education and research for the benefit of humanity.

About the Author
Prof. Rafael A. Beyar is Director General and CEO of the Rambam Health Care Campus, located in Haifa, Israel.
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