On Monday, December 31st, 2012 and Tuesday, January 1st, 2013, the Weinstock Institute for Digestive Diseases at Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical conducted a high-level conference of international experts in the field of diagnosis and treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).
Known to be genetically linked to Ashkenazi Jewish families, IBD includes a painful group of conditions that afflicts over 30,000 people in Israel today and that number is on the constant rise. Approximately 3,000 of those cases are in children, whereby the condition can be particularly debilitating and intrusive into their daily lives.
The Conference, entitled “Challenges in IBD Across Ages” highlighted Shaare Zedek’s extensive familiarity with three separate areas of treatment of these complex diseases; in children, the general public and through advanced surgeries. Sessions focused both on direct medical approaches to caring for IBD as well as topics addressing the genetics of IBD and social and emotional strategies for assisting IBD sufferers. Among the presenters was Ms. Marcie Reiss, founder of the IBD Support Foundation, a non-profit healthcare foundation whose mission is to improve the quality of life for individuals with IBD and their families through support, education and research. Professor Bill Sandborn of San Diego, Professor Mark Silverberg from Toronto, Dr. Eytan Wine from Edmonton and Dr. Richard Russell from Glasgow- all leading experts in the research and treatment of IBD- lectured at the conference.
The event attracted over 300 people to Shaare Zedek, primarily doctors and medical support personnel from gastroenterology departments around Israel but also welcomed the participation of six senior physicians who came to Israel from the United States, Canada and Scotland. The event spanned two days with the first day dedicated to lectures and discussions and the second day featuring a broadcast procedure which was performed by Shaare Zedek surgeons alongside Professor Barry Salky, a renowned laparoscopic surgeon from Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York. The procedure demonstrated a complex approach to removing a section of the intestine affected by IBD via the laparoscopic keyhole method.
Since opening early in 2012, the Weinstock Institute has earned a name for itself as one of Israel’s leading facilities for the diagnosis and treatment of digestive disorders. Under the direction of Professor Eran Goldin and staffed by a leading team of doctors and nurses, the Institute currently sees over 15,000 cases per year. Given Shaare Zedek’s extensive experience in this field of medicine, the hospital was uniquely positioned to host a conference of this type. According to Dr. Dan Turner, who directs the Pediatric Gastroenterology Unit at the hospital, Shaare Zedek is unique in bringing together all the various aspects of advanced digestive care under one roof. Shaare Zedek has particularly made a name for itself for the close collaboration between the gastroenterologists and surgical teams, and the Department of General Surgery under the direction of Professor Petachia Reissman is known for its expertise in addressing particularly complex cases.
Dr. Turner says that in addition to the personal pain that IBD afflicts on patients, the rapid growth in the number of cases is having a direct financial impact on the healthcare system. “Finding optimal treatments, which was a principle objective of this conference, is likely to benefit the overall system by reducing costs for patient treatment and we know that we can learn a great deal from the experience of our colleagues overseas, and they from ours.”
The conference was outfitted with a unique multimedia system in which each participant was provided with a hand-held remote control where they could wirelessly vote on issues put up for discussion during the various panels. Sessions also focused on new drugs that were being introduced to the market to address IBD.
Dr. Turner says that he has received a great deal of positive feedback in the wake of the conference, described by participants as one of the most important academic events held in Israel in this field. “This event proved that when we talk about Shaare Zedek as really acting on the forefront for digestive care it’s not just speech but is something that is being increasingly recognized by the wider community.”
The conference was held under the auspices of the Israeli Gastroenterological Association, the Israeli IBD Society and the Israeli Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition.
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