Translating her passion and professionalism into action, Ruth Radiano, the new Director of Nursing at Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus, brings a background of 26 years of nursing at Hadassah.
Her bonds with Hadassah, however, go back much further since she was born at Hadassah Hospital and received her nursing education at the Hadassah-Hebrew University Henrietta Szold School of Nursing. “Jerusalem has a diverse population with a range of political views and backgrounds,” Ms. Radiano notes, “and it has always been my vision to fulfill the Hadassah Medical Organization’s mission of Tikkun Olam (repairing the world), no matter what the ethnicity or religion or political passion of my patients.”
The nursing leadership positions she has held offered her the perfect opportunity to do just that. A policy and nursing management nurse specialist, she began her nursing career in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit of Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem. She then became the Deputy Head Nurse of the Pediatric Ambulatory Care Center, where she and Prof. Dan Engelhard established Israel’s first (and only) Pediatric AIDS Center, with a multidisciplinary team of health professionals. As she explains, in 2000, Israel welcomed a new wave of immigrants from Africa, where the AIDS virus was prevalent. The Israeli health system faced a health challenge, both new and different from any before because it included a large group of children who were born with HIV/AIDS. She and her colleagues sprung into action to help these children. The result of their efforts–and challenges–was the birth of a treatment protocol that is now a model for AIDS clinics around the world. Hadassah specialists travel to countries such as Ethiopia, Russia, and Uganda to share their expertise. Among the things they teach is how to get small children to swallow all those pills which make up the daily cocktail that is crucial to fighting the disease. They call it “Pill School.”
Ms. Radiano and her colleagues at the Center also brought the Medical Clown program to Hadassah to help ease the weight of the treatment on these children. Initially, it proved problematic, she recalls, since some of these children had never seen a clown and were fearful and skeptical. But, in time, the clowns won them over and became an integral part of the multidisciplinary medical team.
Ms. Radiano also served as Head Nurse in Hadassah’s Bone Marrow Transplantation and Immunotherapy Unit–the first such center in Israel, established in 1987. Today, that unit is, in addition, an international immunogenetic center for rare genetic diseases, identifying the relationship between the immune system and genetic mutations and then treating the disease with bone marrow transplantation. Under the direction of Prof. Polina Stepensky, the Center treats children from around the world. One of its special attributes, Ms. Radiano relates, is that the high success rate of the transplants translates into a total cure for their young patients.
By the same token, in caring for people in the Center who were simply not going to get well, she recalls, “I learned to put the light on the positive, for every day of life is a gift.” She also learned, through a research project she carried out with her nursing team, that hope–before, during, and after a transplant–is a powerful resource, a tool that the staff needs to use more to help their patients through this frightening ordeal.
Throughout her career in nursing leadership, Ms. Radiano has worked hard to create cohesion and a sense of family among her diverse, multicultural staff. To achieve this aim, the staff regularly gets together outside of the hospital for recreational events. As Ms. Radiano explains, “this helps us to bridge the gaps in our cultural backgrounds and perspectives so that we can do our best to care for and save the lives of our patients.” She cites as an example the feast that the Nurses Union organized for the multicultural staff to celebrate the end of the Muslim holiday of Ramadan. The staff celebrates holidays of all religions together, she adds. For example, they gather on Chanukah to light the Chanukah candles of the menorah. The socializing, however, goes beyond holiday celebrations. The Bone Marrow Unit, for example, hosts an annual picnic for staff and their families.
The creation of volunteer programs has been another priority of Ms. Radiano. While serving as Head Nurse in the Pediatric AIDS Center, she and her team recruited medical students to make life easier for the families of their young patients. These students, for example, helped the sick children with their homework, played with them, and took them out for ice cream so that their mothers could rest; they also did shopping for them. Trying to answer any need that arose, these volunteers helped the families continue on with their normal lives. “By touching the families’ suffering,” Ms. Radiano explains, the medical students were given an added sensitivity through which to become compassionate professionals.
While in the Bone Marrow Transplantation Unit, Ms. Radiano established an international volunteer program, where she and her team recruited volunteers from around the world to spend time with patients and help ensure the smooth functioning of the Unit, despite its small staff. Here again, the goal was to create “a strong atmosphere of giving” among the people serving Hadassah’s patients. Just as Ms. Radiano carried this vision with her as she took on new leadership roles at Hadassah Ein Kerem, she brings these same values and principles to her role as Nursing Director of Hadassah Mt. Scopus. She is now in the process of establishing a volunteer program there.
As the new Director of Nursing at Hadassah Mt. Scopus, Ms. Radiano’s underlying goal is to echo Jerusalem’s microcosm of cultural and ethnic diversity within her staff by recruiting more nurses from different backgrounds. At the same time, she wants to provide more leadership development training for her nursing staff, “based on Hadassah’s humanitarian world view of going above and beyond to influence and improve health in Israel and around the world. “My vision,” she says, “is love for the patients and love for the staff. Hadassah is an island of peace and, together, we take care of patients with professionalism and soul.”