Dr. Sig Kharasch is the only doctor in the Hadassah ER who wears a Harvard jacket. His day job is at the pediatric emergency room at Mass General Hospital in Boston. But he takes his busman’s holiday at the pediatric emergency room at Hadassah. “I’m a Zionist and I feel privileged to be able to do this,” says Kharasch.
He describes the many ways in which working at Hadassah is different.
I see different diseases: The variety of diseases we see at Hadassah are different. There were three cases of rheumatic fevers recently. I hadn’t seen rheumatic fever for a while in Boston. There are more metabolic disease, rare diseases that arise when parents are first cousins. Today a one-year old came in with odd eye movements. He turned out to be blind, related to a rare disease.”
There is less rushing: When there’s an emergency, no one moves faster than the Israeli team. But they don’t like to send patients home or to hospitalize them as quickly as we do. Sometimes, it’s better to wait a few hours to see what is developing. That’s good medicine.
I see larger families: I’m a parent, but it’s hard to imagine how the parents, particularly, the mothers, manage with 9, 10, 12 children. But they do. Somehow.
The parents of my patients are so grateful: The families of the patients are so grateful. They’re actually far more affectionate, in the Middle Eastern style.
Teaching at Hadassah is a pleasure: The Residents match up with the best I’ve ever seen from Harvard. They aren’t used to getting as much attention and bedside teaching as their American counterparts get, so they are very appreciative that I spend so much time with them. Because my wife (a pediatric pulmonologist) isn’t with me on this trip, I even have time to go out with them.
The staff are so warm: It is so nice to see how affectionate the staff is here to each other. They hug and kiss when they see each other each new day together. Like close family that has not seen each other for a long time. Even though it was yesterday! So different than America.
The security situation in Israel: I can’t get used to terrorism being a regular subject in this hospital. We’re treating so many terror victims.
Why do I love Hadassah? It’s a slice of peace—the intersection of politics and medicine that really works.
Speaking Hebrew to my patients: To get my Hebrew up to speed, I studied for 6 years at the Hebrew College in Newton, Boston, where we live.
My grandparents came from the Ukraine. My grandfather was a tailor, and my father an obstetrician and gynecological surgeon who left the US and made Aliyah in the 1970s. He spent the happiest years of his life in Israel. I’m inspired by him and by Israel and want my children to understand how important Israel is in their lives.