Soroka on the Front Line of a Just Cause
Soroka Medical Center needs our help
Avi Kadmon is a man of good intention and action. While Solid-Rock-Protective Edge War was in its full foray, one morning he opened his eyes and knew he had to do something. The best idea that came to mind was to help the Soroka Medical Center to where all the injured Israeli soldiers were first brought for initial treatment.
Rachel Heisler Sheinfeld is the Executive Director of American Friends of Soroka Medical Center, with offices in Scarsdale, New York (http://www.soroka.org/). Few years ago Rachel was a banker, and people deposited money in her hands for safeguard. Three years ago Rachel found her calling and took position with American Friends of Soroka and now she enjoys asking people to help the medical center. ”It is my passion, my honor and respect to help and tell the story of Soroka,” she told me.
Moti Klein M.D., whom I had the honor to interview, is, for the past 12 years, the Director General of Soroka Intensive Care Unit (ICU). The present 16 stations ICU is new, only 7 months old, equipped with the state-of-the-art medical equipment. Each room can be converted, immediately and as necessary, into an operation room.
The ICU multidisciplinary dedicated staff is considered among the best in Israel, recognized for training ICU specialists.
Originally from nearby Haifa, Dr. Klein graduated Soroka medical school; he met a girl from Jerusalem, whom he married, and they settled in Be’er-Sheva, where Soroka Hospital is located. He served as a medical officer in the IDF Medical Corps, specialized in internal medicine and did his fellowship in Canada.
Over the course of the past 8 years, Soroka has treated both, civilian casualties and wounded soldiers, civilians injured by rockets and missiles and IDF soldiers wounded in activities aimed to remove the terror threat from Israel’s southern region.
During the current war the hospital treated over 1,000 cases, out of them 700 soldiers. Dr. Klein’s unit received 30 soldiers in mortal condition. At the same time when the hospital heliport was busy, when helicopters were landing, bringing in the wounded hospital’s procedures went on as usual and mothers gave birth to new babies under fire.
There were challenges to face. The war situation is always unpredictable. As the rockets were being fired from Gaza, the hospital had to move premature born babies, who could not run for cover, from an unsafe to a safer location. Same with the geriatric ward where the old are bedridden and immobile.
In his speech, Dr. Klein described the Hospital’s situation: “Let me take you to that day, last month, when missiles began to fly over Israel. Our staff looked at each other, they did not have to say a word to understand that we also live in the places being attacked. We also have children serving in the IDF that would be called and go into Gaza. We also have friends who lost sons in the past. As soon as a name was given to what was happening, “Operation Protective Edge,” we knew we were dealing with more than a “normal” exchange of fire and with unbearable tension and we counted the minutes until the first injured would arrive…” “Good communication allowed us to know when soldiers were wounded, the type and the severity of the injury, and when the helicopter succeeded in reaching them. We knew that as precious time passed, and the helicopter did not succeed reaching the wounded and bleeding, the chances of bringing him alive – 9 minutes flying time to Soroka heliport – were becoming slimmer…”
While the war was ongoing, there was tremendous interest in the hospital. The corridors were full of government ministers, members of Knesset and other curious parties who saw the need to visit the injured, take photos and make speeches. But they all fast forgot the speeches and the promises. Soroka lost a fortune during the war. Services, such as scheduled elective operations and treatments, for which the hospital gets paid, were canceled and the income stopped. There is no need for a war to know that a hospital is not built by the state. One can visit a hospital and see that each wing carries the name of a donor his or her money built it. And Soroka hospital is not expecting the government to make good on its promises. It will not.
The hospital did not know what to expect. Dr. Klein is proud to tell the world that not one family of an injured soldier questioned why their son was in Gaza and for what he sacrificed his life.
Dana Erlich is the Consul for Culture, Media and Public Diplomacy at the Consulate General of Israel, Los Angeles. On behalf of the entire consulate staff, she thanked Soroka and its staff for their dedication and hard work for Israel’s just cause, her security and she thanked the supportive audience who attended the event.
Actor Jon Voight, the Academy Award winner and unabashed, staunch supporter of the State of Israel, made a surprised appearance. He took the opportunity to tell the audience why he supports Israel, approach he learned from his father, and why he will do whatever is in his power and possible to help the Jewish state.
Avi organized the fundraising event at The Mark Events Hall in Los Angeles; Rachel flew in from New York to attend and help; Dr. Klein came especially from Israel to tell the audience, first hand, about Soroka and some stories from his ICU wing, relating to the war; Dana thanked Soroka on behalf of the State of Israel and Jon Voight explained, with deep pride, why he stands for and supports Israel in any which way he can. Singer Tamara Gabriel sang the anthems and entertained the audience with her lovely voice.
This was an awareness and fund raising event. There is an immediate need to upgrade Soroka hospital’s technology, which is considered antiquated. It is seeking to revolutionize its equipment and cut man power. New technologies saves time, especially during wartime. For instance, they need a mobile scanner, new emergency equipment and a new neonatal intensive care ward.
Soroka, headed by Dr. Ehud Davidson, General Director of Soroka University Medical Center, is the sole major medical center for Israel’s entire southern front, playing a leading role during the ongoing military operations with Gaza, the last, Solid Rock-Protective Edge. Each time the war with Gaza flares, Soroka steps up to treat the wounded, while, as we have seen recently, the hospital is under rockets’ fire.
There is a saying among the soldiers who are protecting Israel, the entire Jewish Nation and indirectly the entire free world: “I carry the entire army on my back and I carry the entire [Jewish] Nation of Israel in my heart.” Soldiers arrived to Soroka, received treatment and asked to return to their unit. Camaraderie among the IDF Corps is exceptional, the IDF is an exceptional military force, it is the army of the people, it is the people of Israel army. Israel’s hospitals are exceptional too. Whether it is hospital Ziv in Tzfat, Rambam in Haifa or Soroka in Be’er Sheva, they are all on the front line to save lives during wartime.
Since the government will not help expand and meet the needs of Soroka hospital, it is the public’s duty to step up to the plate and help bring Soroka up-to-date technologically and help expanding the hospital, which, in all probability, will be on the front line again, when the 4th war with Gaza breaks up.
As Jon Voight said it so well when trying to explain why Israel is having to fight for its survival, “Israel is there to teach us all how to get back to moral structure.”
There is a saying, “Charity saves from death”; saves who, the giver of the receiver? You do the thinking, you do the giving.