“These are not easy days in the war against the coronavirus,” says Hadassah Medical Organization Director General Prof. Zeev Rotstein, “both with the increase in the number of those infected nationally and the extra burden here in our hospitals.”

Hadassah now has 18 coronavirus patients, with five in the coronavirus intensive care unit and another four in triage. “In short,” Prof. Rotstein says, “the fight is really on.”

A new directive from the Israeli Health Ministry, Prof. Rotstein reports, mandates “that every patient with a high temperature or with pneumonia must be tested immediately for the coronavirus. This has to be done so that we don’t discover patients have the coronavirus only after they are in the recovery room post-surgery. If that happens, we have to isolate all the members of our team who cared for those patients and may be infected.”

Prof. Rotstein notes, “We’re the only hospital that has given full freedom to our doctors to decide when to test. We’re the only hospital that’s testing all of our staff.”

According to Prof. Rotstein, Hadassah is not forcing everyone on the staff to be tested. Those who have personal reasons for not being tested, or simply don’t want to be tested, are being given unpaid  leave. “We can live with that,” says Prof. Rotstein. “At least we’ll know we’ve protected the rest of the staff as best we can, because it’s really important to us to protect our staff. It’s not only for ourselves and our families, which, of course, is important, but also because of the national role we’re playing in safeguarding and treating the people of Israel. If we don’t have the wherewithal to do this, we won’t be able to stand up to this national mission.”

Prof. Rotstein emphasizes that neither the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower nor Hadassah Mount Scopus is being used for patients with the coronavirus. They are being cared for in the old Round Building. “Our hospitals are very important to the population of Jerusalem,” says Prof. Rotstein. “We must continue treating our other patients. There’s no reason any other patient should die just because we have to deal with the coronavirus.”

Prof. Rotstein adds, “I’m proud of our wonderful Hadassah staff who, under all this pressure at home caring for children and other family members, are still coming to work. They’re going the extra mile, above and beyond. They’re doing just what Hadassah needs, and I admire each and every one of them.”