Hundreds of doctors, nurses, speech therapists, social workers, dieticians, and parents of children with chronic diseases traveled to Jerusalem in December to be a part of the Hadassah Medical Center-sponsored Gerry Schwartz and Heather Reisman 2nd International Congress on Chronic Disorders and Disabilities in Children.

The Congress, directed by Prof. Eitan Kerem, head of Pediatrics at Hadassah Hospital-Mount Scopus and the Elie Douer and Family Center for Pediatric Genetic and Chronic Diseases, tackled such topics as the multitude of issues children with chronic diseases must deal with, including low self-esteem and difficult peer relationships; the rights of children suffering with these diseases and disabilities; the medical side of adoption of children with disabilities; and the challenge of staff burn-out when caring for children with chronic disease.

Yael Castiel, the Nurse Coordinator for the Center, noted that Israeli caregivers do not want to give up any aspect of providing care to these children, even if it is highly stress-producing for them. For example, almost all doctors and nurses who work with this population are willing to give out their cell phone numbers and answer their phones while at home with their families or on vacation. She noted that these caregivers “feel that answering the phone calls did not cause emotional exhaustion, but that their availability did contribute to the quality care for which Hadassah is well-known.”