Island of Sanity

I haven’t had free time to write about it, and our stay with the Israeli Hadassa hospital has already concluded. We were given a sample lecture from a “terror workshop” offered by the hospital, which I found fantastically interesting since a lion’s share of preparations and actions surround emergency medicine. As a conclusion to the lecture, we were given a tour of their impressive emergency department.

In response to the events of the second intifada starting in 2000, Hadassa developed comprehensive procedures for “mass casualty events,” specifically referring to terror attacks similar to the one experienced three weeks ago when a public bus was bombed in Jerusalem. The protocols revolve around creating capacity for the immediate influx of patients, full evaluation of the array of medical problems which can result from an explosion injury, smooth triage and flow of patients, management of concerned families of the victims, as well as psychiatric care for the victims and families. When I imagine the chaos which must ensue with amounts of injury, emotion, and confusion, it is a lofty goal to establish what our lecturer referred to as “an island of sanity.”

What I perceive as the most challenging aspect of creating sanity is unique to the “terror” situation- Hadassa Hospial is the only level 1 trauma center and receives ALL of the injured; this includes Israelis, Palestinians, and potentially the perpetrator himself. For this, social workers are specially trained to deal with families and victims of a mass casualty event, and the hospital emergency room is too- there are private rooms available for potentially inflammatory patients, and the walls and windows between patients are bullet-proof.

Our lecturer, Guli Benbenishty, had a professional and compassionate demeanor when discussing the care of patients who could easily arouse strong emotions. My faith in the separation of people and governments is again strengthened by this. It is also a sobering comparison to U.S. emergency departments where some patients are frustrating or difficult to deal with but are effortless in comparison.

I would like to publicly thank  Professor Lotan of Hadassa’s cardiology department who made our time at Hadassa possible.

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