The following article was originally published in the Hadassah International 2022 Year In Review. To access the complete Hadassah International 2022 Year in Review – click here: Cure. Innovation. Humanity.


For the Metta Cohen Family Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), 2022 was the busiest year ever, with over 1,000 children admitted. Approximately 70% were treated in the general pediatric ICU, and 30% in the pediatric cardiac critical care unit.

The Pediatric Intensive Care Unit was dedicated in the presence of an 80-member delegation from Mexico City’s Alianza Monte Sinai Jewish community, the United Israel Appeal (Keren Hayesod), and Hadassah Mexico in April of 2018.

An exemplary community, Alianza Monte Sinai, consisting primarily of Jews from Damascus, is one of the two largest communities in Mexico City. Their unity in the commitment to the people of Israel, and to human health, is nothing short of inspiring.

“We are pioneering a new cultural approach to caring for neonates in the hostile ICU environment.” Prof. Uri Pollak, head of the PICU

“The PICU is always at 100% occupancy, and yet the number of admissions has risen from month to month, without an increase in the number of beds. This is a testimony to the remarkable team,” affirms Prof. Uri Pollak, who heads Hadassah’s PICU, comprising a general pediatric ICU and a pediatric cardiac critical care unit.


ECMO referral center

Pollak is proud that Hadassah’s PICU, one of the largest in Israel, is an ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) referral center for the greater Jerusalem area and nationwide. “We launched the Hadassah ECMO program before the coronavirus pandemic, and have kept on growing. Since 2019, we have cared for nearly 60 ECMO patients,” says Pollak.

The PICU also offers a nephrology critical care service for the growing number of dialysis patients and has become a national referral center for children requiring renal replacement therapy.

As a regional referral center, the PICU treats patients from all over the Middle East, including Syria and Iraq, and even from Russia. The PICU has close professional ties with the Burjeel Medical Center in Abu Dhabi, where Prof. Pollak has been invited to give an inaugural lecture at the launch of the pediatric ECMO program.

The Hadassah PICU collaborates with leading medical centers worldwide and has both close research and clinical ties with The Johns Hopkins Hospital in the US. The PICU also participates in numerous international clinical trials.

Prof. Uri Pollak was recruited to set up the pediatric cardiac critical care and ECMO unit at Hadassah in 2019. He came to Hadassah after a fellowship in pediatric cardiology at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, and a second fellowship in pediatric cardiac critical care at Sheba Medical Center. In 2020 he was appointed the head of PICU while continuing to direct the Pediatric Cardiac Critical Care Unit (PCCCU). The new PCCCU, located on level two of the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower, is the only one of its kind in Jerusalem. Canadian Hadassah WIZO proudly supports the PCCCU.

“The powerful combination of the outstanding Hadassah Hospital and the world-class Hebrew University was a compelling offer. It was a huge challenge to set up my own unit, but it developed rapidly. There was a huge need for the ECMO service at Hadassah,” says Pollak.


Cultural change

Last year, the PICU launched a unique cultural change project, in collaboration with the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem. This new developmental program is embedded in the general pediatric ICU, as well as the cardiac ICU. “We are pioneering a new cultural approach to caring for neonates in the hostile ICU environment,” explains Prof. Pollak. “And along with parent engagement, we are changing this hostile environment to a less threatening and more friendly environment for all infants, from neonates through to toddlers.”

Pollak’s vision is for the PICU to be a world-leading ICU in medical treatment, education, research, clinical outcomes, safety, and quality of care. “I am proud and privileged to say that my staff is top-notch,” declares Pollak.

“The combination of Hadassah’s reputation, its academic atmosphere, the outstanding education, and the heterogeneity of the staff (Muslims, Christians, Jews, religious and non-religious), results in a unique environment where everyone works together, with enthusiasm and passion, to provide the best medical practice, and to take the Hadassah vision one step forward.”


Mai photo caption: Rachma (l) and mother Balsam with Prof. Uri Pollak at Hadassah Ein Kerem’s Mett Cohen Family Pediatric Intensive Care Unit