Shaare Zedek Unparalled medical excellence

Israel's historic hospital is leading 21st-century medicine where compassion is the culture



By Sharon Gelbach

Published: Thu 28 Jan 2021, 4:26 PM

Shaare Zedek Medical Center, having just celebrated its 119th birthday, is one of the landmarks of Israel's capital. In fact, if you ask any resident about the hospital in the heart of the city, they will tell you that Shaare Zedek is Jerusalem.

Prof. Jonathan Halevy, formerly the director-general of Shaare Zedek Medical Center and now its president, spearheaded the facility's metamorphosis from a small community hospital with 266 beds into a world-class acute care centre boasting over 1,000 beds.

It is telling that during the over three decades of his tenure, as he led Shaare Zedek's steady development to its current status at the forefront of medical excellence, Prof. Halevy was emphatic about maintaining the tradition of compassion started in 1902 by the hospital's founder Dr Wallach.

"I think I was the only hospital director in Israel who dismissed surgeons because they weren't empathetic enough," Prof. Halevy remarks. "Our admission process, whether for senior physicians, young residents, nurses, or supporting staff, takes personality into account alongside other factors. This encapsulates our mission: to combine forefront medicine, both from the academic and clinical aspects, with empathy, compassion, and individualised, personalised care."

At Shaare Zedek, compassion is the culture, and it permeates all of the hospital's wards, from the ER to the internal wards to any of the many, specialised departments. And yet, it has clearly not come at the expense of professionalism, as can be discerned from the "all-star" roster of brilliant physicians, many of whom Prof. Halevy recruited from top medical centres in Israel and abroad. In addition to their extensive clinical experience, many of those doctors have contributed greatly to innovation and medical research, in collaboration with other national and international centres.

According to Prof. Halevy: "The human element, vital though it may be, must be buttressed by the ground-breaking, high-tech advances that characterise 21st-century medicine. "Additionally," he says, "a medical centre that doesn't constantly build and renew is one that is regressing."

Indeed, Shaare Zedek is in the midst of several capital projects, most notably the huge, state-of-the-art cancer centre, which will house the hospital's comprehensive approach to cancer - chemotherapy surgery, palliative care, and more - in one aesthetically designed location.

Equipment is constantly being evaluated and updated. "We have the best catherization labs in our Cardiology Department, the most advanced neurosurgical equipment; we've incorporated robotics into our labs, pharmacy, and surgical procedures; we've replaced our MRIs with state-of-the-art models. . It takes tremendous effort and resources to stay at the forefront; this is one of our main priorities," asserts Prof. Halevy.

For several years, Shaare Zedek has developed its medical tourism division, with patients arriving from eastern Europe, Asia and all over. Although the overwhelming majority of Shaare Zedek staff speak fluent English (including a disproportionate number of native English-speakers), the medical tourist receives a personal escort who speaks their language and helps them navigate all aspects of their medical procedure, ensuring the most positive experience possible.

"We welcome patients from all over the world, and commit to providing them with the highest standards of international medical care in the atmosphere of compassion and empathy that has earned us our reputation for over a century," says Prof. Halevy.

Two years ago, Prof. Halevy was succeeded by Professor Ofer Merin, a renowned cardiothoracic trauma surgeon, who also serves in the military reserve as a Commander of the IDF Field Hospital. He continues to direct the hospital according to the same principles as his predecessor, combining top medical care with empathy and compassion.

For all medical tourism inquiries, contact: medicaltourism@szmc.org.il

Tel: 972-50-8685148 or 972-2-6666698


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