During the COVID pandemic, Herzog was designated by the Israeli Ministry of Health as one of the country’s centres for the treatment of that disease, due to the hospital’s expertise in respiratory care.  Herzog was called upon to receive patients who had been in ICUs and COVID centres in other hospitals since these patients required a level of care – including ventilation post-COVID – which those hospitals were unable to provide.  In total, over 2,000 patients were received at Herzog from a total of 17 other hospitals.  As we write this, as many as 230 patients, of different ages – from babies to the elderly – are being ventilated at Herzog at one time, for various reasons and conditions.

A large segment of the COVID patient population was elderly, and suffering from multiple diseases.  Fortunately, the mortality rate was substantially lower than what had been expected.  It is believed that the excellent results were due to treating the patients with compassion, and removing them from isolation, thus providing them with the hope of surviving, as their mental state was of great importance.  It was the “hearts of gold” possessed by Herzog’s staff members and volunteers – including soldiers of the IDF, who were responsible for communications between patients and their families –   that was responsible for the hospital’s great success in treating COVID patients.  Over 2,000 patients with COVID have been treated at Herzog since the beginning of the pandemic, and at one point 60% of Israel’s elderly suffering from severe COVID were being treated at the Herzog Medical Center.  Of note is that the COVID centre in Herzog was the only centre in the country open continuously even after the others closed during the period of the lull in the pandemic.

Construction on the Samson Pavilion is now complete, having 600 beds, 450 of which are occupied at present.  In the course of the pandemic, the hospital increased from 300 to 400 patients, as the needs of the elderly are enormous.  The COVID centre was opened in the Underground Emergency Hospital, as this facility was constructed as a totally isolated, self-contained unit for use in case of war, and thus eminently suitable for the need of isolating these highly infectious patients.

Thanks entirely to contributions from Canadian donors such as you, The Dr. Max and Gianna Glassman Centre has also been completed, which means that all its various clinics – which had previously been located in various parts of Jerusalem –  are now all under one campus.  This includes the Herzog-Israel Center for the Treatment of Psychotrauma (PTSD) (also known as ‘METIV’) – the Adult Psychiatry Clinic – Psychogeriatric Clinic – the Children’s Mental Health Clinic – and most recently, the Adolescent and Young Mental Health Clinic, which has started operating in collaboration with the municipality, and which focuses on the special needs of  this age group, demonstrating post-COVID issues.

In the area of Mental Health and Rehabilitation treatment, Herzog has been treating the massive number of immigrants – Jewish, as well as non-Jewish – arriving in Israel from Ukraine, and helping them to deal with the many issues and problems from which many of them are suffering. 

As mentioned above, COVID has had a major impact on mental health, especially on young people, who have suffered from the loss of social contact. There have been reports of a rise in suicide attempts, with many major newspapers (including a front-page article in The New York Times) earlier this year highlighting the problem of mental health in adolescents and young adults.

In the area of research, Herzog is looking into neuro-immunological markers of neuropsychiatric diseases, and has registered a number of patents utilizing this information for treatment modalities.  One of these is being developed in the United States, aiming to treat depression with suicidal ideation, and it is being fast-tracked for development by the FDA.  Herzog will be looking at how to apply these patents to post-COVID and acute COVID patients. 

Finally, we are excited by the announcement that Herzog has been named by the Israeli Ministry of Defence as its main Jerusalem centre for the treatment of soldiers of the IDF suffering from mental health issues.

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           It can be seen that 2022 was a busy and successful year for HERZOG, and it appears that 2023 will be equally exciting and flourishing!

          In closing, as Herzog celebrates its 128th Birthday on the eighth candle of Chanukkah, all of us at HERZOG, and at Canadian Friends of Herzog Hospital, wish you and your family a bright and glowing Chanukkah!  Stay safe – stay healthy!