My Dear Hadassah Friends,
As we celebrate Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, announcements about the success of vaccines to combat COVID-19 make us all feel that we are approaching the light at the end of a very long, curving, and dark tunnel. I am so proud of the Hadassah Medical Organization (HMO) for playing a major role in confronting the pandemic. From the first mention of COVID-19, our experts at Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem have been contributing to its understanding, from testing to recuperation.
With experienced and creative treatment of the most fragile patients, we have maintained low mortality rates. We were the first major medical center to allow family members, dressed in protective gear, to visit patients. We sent in our medical clowns to improve morale. We trained a cadre of volunteers to provide the bedside companionship that our patients are used to. We directed more than 20 research projects to our Clinical Virology Laboratory for investigation. We invented new respiratory machines. We collected plasma from recovered patients to make a serum to treat those who were still suffering from COVID-19.
Most of all, we never said no to sick patients. We just kept opening new wards, and our heroic doctors and nurses—our own Maccabees—worked extra shifts. Others volunteered to help colleagues who were exhausted from wearing those heavy astronaut-like suits to treat the sick. We also created a COVID-19 follow-up clinic to address the mysterious “after-effects” of the disease.
“You are doing your part to bring light to the darkness.”
And we did all this while operating the rest of the hospital at near full capacity. Where do we get that extra energy? From you, our Hadassah family. Don’t ever feel helpless against this plague because, through HMO, you are doing your part to bring light to the darkness.
Last month, HMO received press coverage around the world not only for our medical expertise but also for being a hospital with a heart. A young Hasidic bride and groom couldn’t bear the thought of holding their wedding without the groom’s father, a patient in one of Hadassah’s COVID-19 outbreak departments, so I agreed that we had to help them. We set up a chuppah (wedding canopy) outside, three floors below the department. Our hospital carpenter opened the sealed window, and the nurses pinned colored balloons outside it. Then they wheeled the patient over to the window. Though only 18 guests besides the bride and groom were allowed to attend, thousands of patients and staff from hospital rooms and clinics watched with tears streaming down their faces. The wedding video, you’ll excuse the expression, “went viral,” as it caught the imagination of the world—from The Washington Post in the US to the Hindustan Times in India.
And recently, we had an unusual birth on our Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus campus. A couple named Tamar and Moshe had identical triplet boys! There’s only a one in 200,000 chance of having identical triplets. The mother was warned by doctors that she shouldn’t proceed with the pregnancy, but Hadassah’s expert staff guided her through it.
While we’re all waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel, with your help, we’re also creating light every day through our dedication, expertise, and heart.
I wish all of you a Hanukkah filled with light. Even if you are seeing your loved ones only on Zoom and not sharing a platter of latkes, I’m sure that you will celebrate the battles and miracles of the past and those of our times.
Prof. Zeev Rotstein
Director-General, Hadassah Medical Organization