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While you are all certainly very aware of the gravity of the national situation, we take this opportunity to update you specifically on how it is affecting the Hospital.
Naturally the two hospitals adjacent to the battlefield, Soroka in Beersheva and Barzilai in Ashkelon, received the majority of the first load of severely and less severely wounded patients. Soon after, patients came to Shaare Zedek straight from the battlefield. Following this began the transfer of patients who had been stabilized and were able to be evacuated.
In total to date, we have absorbed and treated about 60 patients directly injured by the attacks and the military response. Among them are both soldiers and civilians and many pain-filled stories of loss. In one particularly heart-wrenching case, we treated two young children who were found abandoned on the border fence after their mother had been taken into captivity. Their father had survived and brought them directly to Shaare Zedek.
We have also opened a mental health care unit within the emergency room for individuals suffering from shock and other emotional issues.
One of our main operational challenges comes from human resource issues resulting from the widespread callup of staff members to emergency reserve duty. Over 100 doctors and nurses have already been called up and we expect that number to continue to rise. Security-related closures also prevent a significant number of employees from getting to the hospital.
Needless to say, the solidarity of our staff, from all races and populations of the Jerusalem population, has been extraordinary and is indicative of the remarkable spirit of unity that has always defined our hospital.
As is always the case in all major security incidents, we have opened a 24-hour emergency command center to deal with all operational issues that arise, which is also being managed together with support of IDF personnel.
On Monday afternoon, we were called upon to deal with the first major incident from these events to affect the Jerusalem area, when a rocket attack resulted in injuries in multiple locations outside the city and we treated several patients. One of the patients was seriously injured and remains in our ICU following a particularly complex surgery to address internal wounds from shrapnel that penetrated her body.
The attack set off the air raid sirens in our area – as has happened several times since Shabbat. These are events which we are of course trained for, and we are working with all relevant staff members to reinforce the protocols. We are constantly monitoring the situation and if there is a determination that additional safe areas need to be opened or specific departments permanently transferred, we will be prepared to do so.
Like all the people of Israel and our friends all over the world, we are painfully witnessing the horrific toll only grow.
Tragically, but not at all unexpectedly, our Shaare Zedek family is being directly affected. Three staff members have lost sons, two have lost brothers, and one member of staff has two children listed as missing.
Friends, these are deeply tragic and trying days and there is no exaggerating the toll this is taking on all from both the practical and emotional perspectives. This is a struggle unlike anything our nation has seen in many years. But we know that our mandate remains to be prepared for every eventuality that may come our way. Indeed, our work does go on and we can share that in the last day alone, 64 babies were born at the Hospital – ensuring that Shaare Zedek’s historic commitment to preserving the circle of life for Israel remains constant.
We hope and pray for better days ahead. But until then, we know that we are crying and mourning together, and we deeply appreciate all your support.
Prof. Ofer Merin and Prof. Jonathan Halevy
Director-General and President of Shaare Zedek