“I’m starting to think this virus has a preference for infecting the righteous among us. These patients are angels. God bless them.”
– Nurse Rachel Gemara, COVID-19 Keter Unit
A Shabbat of Inspiration
It is one thing to be inspired by the doctors and nurses at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem who volunteered to leave current assignments to treat patients who have tested positive for COVID-19.
It is another to watch people throughout Israel, and soldiers serving in the IDF, step outside their homes to show their gratitude.
And still another to learn how patients themselves are volunteering to help others, who are also COVID-19 positive, but are sicker than they are, all to minimize the risk of exposure of doctors and nurses.
Each moment our brave staff fight this pandemic, we see the best in the people of Israel.
With the creation of the Keter Department, a special ward created to treat patients suffering from the coronavirus, Shaare Zedek has created an isolated unit to treat those hit hardest by this illness. The unit has been outfitted with highly advanced technologies that allow for safe communication between those in the ward and those outside it. There are cameras in each patient’s room that are monitored in a control room. Each patient has a telephone with a screen with which they can talk to doctors and nurses. Exposure is minimized, giving the doctors the ability to help more critical patients more efficiently.
Nurse Rachel Gemara has been keeping a journal of her shifts in the Keter Department. On Thursday she wrote that after admitting a young woman with a cough, fever and difficulty breathing, the same woman explained that she was still available to help patients sicker than herself.“… that patient in critical care, I know you can’t go in often, if you need help with him, please call me and I’ll go in for you!,” exclaimed the patient.
After another shift Rachel wrote, “My elderly patient is thriving with the care and love he’s receiving from the other patients when the staff can’t be by his side. I can see them on my screen, giving him water, adjusting his bed, fixing his oxygen, talking to him and keeping him company.”
Of course, patients still need physical exams. At regular intervals, the doctors and nurses suit up with the help of the staff of the Infectious Diseases Unit. A protective body suit, masks, face gear and gloves go on before each entry into the Keter unit. After attending to patients, suits are removed and discarded. New gear must be put on for the next visit.
Nurse Gemara is not alone. Nurse Levi Levine, though exhausted, joked with an interviewer from “Haolam Haboker” (The World this Morning) after a 13-hour shift in the Keter Department. Though it would require him to be separated from his family, Levi volunteered to treat COVID-19 patients. “We all enlisted. The department was built very quickly,” explains Levine, “The hospital prepared for this and brought us equipment and supplies…All the time they bring more and more…You can hear behind me that they are building and renovating… They made a separate entrance to the emergency room. We are changing and updating while we are working and learning.”
These amazing medical professionals do not see themselves as heros, they are just doing their jobs. But Israelis needed to show their gratitude. At 6pm on Thursday, applause could be heard throughout Israel as people across the country, opened their windows, walked out to their balconies and clapped and cheered for the medical personnel on the front lines battling this virus. Even patients in the isolated ward got out of their beds to give their doctors, nurses and hospital staff a standing ovation. To watch the video, go to http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/277548.