As the current Jewish Year draws to a close and we prepare to greet the New Year, it is only natural to reflect on the year gone by, the events both great and small, the friends we have made and, unfortunately, those we have lost.
This past year has been very challenging, especially for those of us in the health care profession. COVID-19, which has ravaged the globe, has “reorganized” our priorities, sending us careening on a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs, highs and lows, both personally and institutionally.
The Herzog Medical Center has been no exception. In fact, we have been very much at the epicentre of the Pandemic in Israel. Over a year ago, we opened what rapidly became the largest COVID centre in Jerusalem with over 160 beds, admitting patients from across the country. We went through the waves of infection until, thanks to the rapid vaccination programme, we saw the disease almost disappear. The number of patients went from over 120 at the high, down to 1-2 at the low. Yet caution dictated that we not close the centre, and, thank goodness we didn’t. We remained the sole COVID department open in the whole of Israel and when the disease recently returned with a vengeance, we were ready. Once again, Herzog Hospital admitted patients from across the country until the other hospitals were able to organize and reopen their own units. Currently, as I write, we are beginning to see the effect of the booster dose of the vaccine with a reduction in the number of severely sick elderly. Hopefully, this trend will continue and once again we shall be back to an element of normalcy. But, please, don’t let your guard down because this problem will not go away – or at least, not soon, and we can surely expect further eruptions.
Work at the hospital also continues in other fields. A few months ago, we were able to open the new Rehabilitation Departments, although only two out of the four are fully functioning (due to many of the staff having been requisitioned for the COVID departments). We are also poised to open the new Glassman Health Care Center, funded primarily through the efforts of our Canadian Friends in collaboration with the JNF of Canada. This major project is named after Gianna and the late Dr. Max Glassman and will house Herzog’s “Metiv – The Israel Center for the Treatment of Psychotrauma”, a facility of the hospital, as well as other clinics for children and adults.
Finally, on a personal level, at the beginning of this year, after more than 25 years at the helm, I handed over the daily running of the hospital to a new CEO: Dr. Jacob Haviv. Dr. Haviv brings a wealth of experience to the position and has already made his mark. As President of the hospital, I shall be continuing to devote myself to the hospital and its long-term strategic development. We wish Dr. Haviv the very best of success and look forward to introducing him to you all.
Wishing you and all your families a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year, with the focus – this year – on health! Make sure that you are all fully vaccinated – but please do not become complacent. COVID is a very, very nasty disease and even fully vaccinated individuals can become sick, albeit in a milder way, but there are no guarantees!
Shannah Tovah, and I hope that we shall be able to meet in person, once again, this coming year.
Yehezkel Caine M.D., M.Sc.
President, Herzog Hospital – Jerusalem.
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