A Senior Nurse at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem recently spoke about the challenges and hope in the Israeli Field Hospital located in Ukraine.
In recent days, Miriam Dreyer, Nursing Director in the Pediatric Nephrology Unit at Shaare Zedek Medical Center has been running the Pediatric Emergency Service in the Israeli Field Hospital currently working on the ground in Western Ukraine. She describes her experiences in this role as both challenging, and inspiring.
Dreyer has a very personal connection to the war, as her sister lived in the city of Donetsk—in the country’s eastern region—and had been forced to flee with her family to Austria when the war began. When Israel’s medical missions began to make their way into the affected areas, Miriam began planning to join them, despite warnings from her sister of the escalating dangers. Early in April, when Shaare Zedek received a request for personnel to help support the “Kochav Meir” Israeli field hospital, Miriam knew that this was an opportunity she couldn’t turn her back on. Days later, after receiving some dedicated training that would be relevant in the field hospital setting, she was on the ground in Ukraine.
“When my sister heard that I was here on the front, she was very worried but I reassured her I was in good hands and equipped with a helmet and flak jacket,” Miriam says. “After several days of training via the Health Ministry, I was pleased to be appointed to direct the pediatric emergency department which is a real honor.” Every day, the department she directs open at 8:00 and there are already people waiting outside the door. She says they treat dozens of children of all ages every day amidst difficult weather conditions. “You can imagine large numbers of people waiting in stormy cold weather and we work actively to reduce the waiting times and get them the care they need as quickly as possible.”
“The appreciation and gratitude we receive for the work we are doing gives us the strength to continue and provide the care needed for the many others who are waiting in line. Our goal is to go beyond just medical care but provide emotional support with kind words or a warm blanket or stuffed animal. These children and families are in desperate need of attention. After treating them, even if they know that they have a chronic condition that isn’t going away, we have given them patient and compassionate care and provided them with medical information they might not have had before. It’s always rewarding to watch how a child arrives all tense and withdrawn, and several minutes later they’re playing and running around. These kids are our heroes and it’s rewarding to be able to give them the care they need.”
“We have encountered people in deeply challenging emotional situations where they have been ripped away from their families by the war. Just this week, a ten-year old boy arrived with his grandmother after their family had fled from the Donbas region and the grandmother explained that the boy’s mother has been missing since the beginning of the war. Another girl came with a severe eye condition in the freezing cold and we were able to warm her up and wherever possible we are able to distribute blankets to those in need.”
“Every morning, we hear the sound of an air-raid siren and we run down into the shelters, something which happens at least two or three times each day. The sense of camaraderie that we have within our teams is critical to keep us going and that spirit of volunteerism and caring is deep within all if us. There is truly no way to describe it other than to say that this is the very best of what Israel is all about.”
The Canadian Shaare Zedek Hospital Foundation thanks Miriam, and all of our healthcare heroes, who save, deliver, and change lives.