Prof. Halevy reflects on his time at SZMC and public hospitals in Israel

February 11th, 2019 by Camrin Parnell

After 31 years as the Director General of Shaare Zedek Medical Center, Prof. Jonathan Halevy is stepping down. During his career at Shaare Zedek, he transformed the small hospital into a large and respected hospital. Shaare Zedek grew from a 300 bed hospital that treated 16,000 patients a year to a 1,000 bed medical center with 92,000 hospitalizations a year, including a labor and delivery department with 22,000 births a year and the largest NICU in the country.

During a recent interview, Prof. Halevy described how he starts his day at 6:30am in Shaare Zedek’s Weinstock Family Emergency Medicine Department (ER). In the ER, he sees the overcrowding of patients in the hallways, he explained, “This morning there were 110 patients in the ER, when the normal capacity is 70…the emergency rooms in all of the public hospitals in Israel, without exception, have patients in the hallways, which disrespects the patients’ humanity. There are typically four doctors and 12 nurses in a shift when it should be ten doctors and 24 nurses. We are not staffed appropriately [based on the Ministry of Health’s staffing appropriations]…

If the situation does not change quickly, people will go to the emergency room and they will not be able to go in and there will be tragedies. Or, they will die at the door of the emergency rooms, or they will not get to the ER and their condition will deteriorate and they may die at home….Part of the pressure on the ER comes from a lack of space in the Internal Wards. The internal wards also lack sufficient appropriation of staff [by the Ministry of Health]…”

During this interview, Prof. Halevy also highlighted the five most unforgettable moments during his time as Director General of Shaare Zedek:

1-April 1994, the opening of the Jesselson Heart Center which changed the landscape of cardiology in Jerusalem. The largest cardiology department in Israel that included heart surgery, catheterizations, open heart surgery and more, all on one floor.

2-September 2003, the night Dr. Applebaum z”l and his daughter z”l were killed in a terror attack at Café Hillel. The daughter was supposed to be married the following day.

3-February 2004-the terror attack on a bus near the Liberty Bell Park that brought many critical casualties to Shaare Zedek’s emergency room during a very short time frame.

4-March 2016, the opening of the Helmsley Neurological Institute that has dramatically changed the fate of stroke victims in Jerusalem.

5-June 2017, the glowing comments Shaare Zedek received from the American team performing the rigorous accreditation process. Prof. Halevy shared, “I remember the moment when the evaluators told us that Shaare Zedek was among the best academic hospitals that they had reviewed in the world.  I will not forget the excitement and the cohesion of our staff that was felt at that event.”

Please read the article (in Hebrew) for additional details.