From: Prof. Shlomo Mor-Yosef, Director General, Hadassah Medical Organization

Sent: Friday, September 16, 2011

A Friday Story: Hadassah International Builds Bridges Around the World

Dear Friends,

Trauma Medicine is one of Hadassah Medical Organization’s highly developed disciplines, one we have honed during the two decades since we established Israel’s first Shock Trauma Unit – often under “trial by fire.” Treating victims of terror attacks and mass casualty events play a major role in our learning process. Less visible, but unfortunately more common, are the unconscionable number of road accident victims we treat each year.

We have shared–and continue to share–what we have learned through journal articles, conference presentations and on-site training. Some years ago, we were asked to help set up a trauma unit in Buenos Aires. This summer, we participated in the Hadassah Mexico Trauma Symposium.

sept 16 2011 hadassah internatonal builds bridges trauma symposium panamaI recently returned from the Third Trauma Symposium at Hospital Santo Tomas in Panama, the country’s largest teaching hospital where HMO and Hadassah Panama helped to establish a Level 1 Trauma Unit. Over 700 doctors and nurses attended the first symposium in 2007, and about the same number return each year. The dedicated members of Hadassah Panama were instrumental in initiating this fruitful collaboration and continue to foster it – Hadassah International can take pride in creating these and other important initiatives.

Since the beginning, Hadassah doctors and nurses have been an instrumental part of the program. They present papers at the meetings and remain in Panama for a week or more, working alongside the local medical teams.

“These seminars are very useful for our personnel,” says Dr. Elias Garcia Mayorca, Medical Director General of Hospital Santo Tomas. “They give us the opportunity to share our experiences here with the well-trained physicians from the Hadassah Hospitals in Jerusalem, which allows us to give our patients better assistance.”

This year, Neurosurgeon Prof. Jose Cohen, an Interventional Neuroradiologist and stroke specialist, Dr. Miklosh Bala, an expert in trauma from the Department of Surgery, and Emergency Medicine Nurse Merav Kamer represented HMO. While still in Panama, Dr. Bala and Ms. Kamer shared their impressions with us.

“The trauma conference was extremely successful and the turnout was remarkable. The audience included all trauma personnel – from doctors and nurses to paramedics and fire fighters. In fact more people came than could fit in the auditorium. The lectures generated a lot of interest. There was a lot of feedback and many questions. When I saw the people coming back the next day, I knew that ‘it worked.’

As for our work in the hospital, it is still in progress. As far as we can tell, there have been many improvements since Dr. Almogy and Pnina Sharon’s visit last year, but there is yet much to do.”

Last year, Dr. Gidon Almogy, the Director of HMO’s, Surgical Center B, Pnina Sharon, the Head Nurse of Adult Emergency Room at our Judy and Sidney Swartz Center for Emergency Medicine, and Dr. Liat Appelbaum, Director of the Center for Diagnostic and Invasive Ultrasound in the Department of Radiology and Medical Imaging, spent two weeks at Hospital Santo Tomas helping them organize their Trauma Unit and assisting them in formulating their protocols. This was their fourth visit to share advice and provide tangible support. Dr. Ruth Stalnikowicz, Head of the Emergency Room at Hadassah-Mt. Scopus, accompanied them on one of their visits, adding invaluable insight.

“The men and women of Hadassah Panama did and are doing an amazing job of organizing everything for the conference and every other aspect of our visit,” Dr. Bala and Ms. Kamer wrote. “Their hospitality and warmth are overwhelming. They have gone to extreme measures to make us feel at home and we are at a loss for words to show our gratitude to them. “

Now it’s my turn to add some words of praise for Hadassah Panama and for Hadassah International President Sherry Altura. Sherry has nurtured the group and the project since its inception, fostering personal relationships and important connections. Most of all, she has made the name Hadassah – and Hadassah Panama – renowned and respected throughout the country.

Dr. Jacabo Cohen, or Jacky as he is called, organized and chaired the Symposium. Thanks to his outstanding medical reputation and superb organization skills, it was an outstanding success.  “I am proud to belong to Hadassah and to do this seminar for my country,” Dr. Cohen said modestly. But the seminar is just part of what he did for Panama and for us. He and his wife Sarita, President of Hadassah Panama, along with past president Margie Mizrachi and her husband Moy, hosted us throughout our stay–providing us with invaluable advice and incredible hospitality. Among many of their many gracious gifts, they arranged for me to attend Slichot services and Moy accompanied me for this meaningful observance.

The Jewish community of Panama held their former Chief Rabbi, Rabino Sion Levy, of blessed memory, in such high esteem that they raised over one million dollars to name the Centennial Conference Room in the new Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower in his honor.

Hadassah Panama organized television interviews and a special VIP luncheon –with major media attendance–where the new national protocol for treating trauma patients was formally announced. Hadassah Panama helped devise and promote the new protocol, which will enhance how medicine is practiced in Panama.

During the Symposium, our Hadassah experts were stellar attractions. After his outstanding lecture on strokes, Prof. Cohen was inundated by people with questions about patients and loved ones. He listened attentively and reviewed each situation.

“It is amazing how competent this community is in the planning and execution of these events, Sherry Altura says. “They could run this country given the chance.”sept 16 2011 hadassah international builds bridges hadassah panama group shot

I agree. All the members of Hadassah Panama, but especially the women, are masterminds at planning and executing events, assuring that Hadassah has a prominent place in the community and most graciously coordinating our visits. As Hadassah Panama Vice President Raquel Btesh noted, “When Hadassah puts their heads and their hands together we can do everything.”

“I am thankful to Hadassah for sending these doctors to Panama to help us with this important project. They are our inspiration,” Sarita Cohen added.


My experience in Panama–like the one in Mexico and in many other places around the world–is an inspiration to me. It reminds me of how much the Hadassah Medical Organization has to offer, how important it is for us to share our knowledge with the people and countries, the esteem the Hadassah Medical Organization elicits, and how important Hadassah International is to our efforts.

Whether in Latin America or the Far East, Europe or Australia – countries that are our friends as well as some that don’t recognize the State of Israel – Hadassah’s doctors and nurses are welcomed with warmth and enthusiasm, admiration and respect. They in turn, bring honor to Hadassah and to Israel, creating new relationships, establishing new friendships, building bridges across countries and continents by caring for others.

Shabbat shalom,


Prof. Shlomo Mor-Yosef