Coming at the end of a week of intense diplomacy between the US and Israel, Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center was host to a high level visit from the United States Ambassador to Israel, Daniel Shapiro. During his visit, Amb. Shapiro toured many of the hospital’s centers of excellence and paid special attention to various projects which were developed with the support of the United States Government through the US AID program.
Following a tour of the Medical Imaging Department which purchased two MRI scanners and a new CT scanner in part through US AID grants, the Ambassador remarked that “It is truly heart-warming to see how American funds are being put to such good use on behalf of your patients.”
The Ambassador was welcomed to Shaare Zedek by Director General Professor Jonathan Halevy who provided a briefing of the hospital’s leading position in a number of medical realms. Professor Halevy focused on the history of linkages between Shaare Zedek and the American people and joked that along with MD one of the most common degrees achieved amongst hospital staff is GIA for Given in America, referencing the high number of hospital physicians who have performed top fellowships in the US.
A number of American-born and trained physicians joined the briefing and Professor Halevy pointed to them as “Shaare Zedek’s reflection of the strong US-Israel relationship.” The Ambassador replied saying that he is very appreciative of the partnership that exists between his country and the hospital saying “Shaare Zedek’s reputation is well known and this was a great opportunity to better understand the breadth of your involvement with the community.”
Ambassador Shapiro further said that he is particularly encouraged by “the role that hospitals play in bridging the cross communal gap that exists in Israeli society and we can only hope that impact will extend beyond the hospital’s walls.”
The Ambassador’s delegation visited various leading departments in the hospital, including the Wilf Woman and Infant Center which he was informed is the Western World’s most active maternity department with over 15,000 births annually. He also toured the Jesselson Heart Center and the Glaubach Department of Pediatric Emergency Medicine.
The highlight of the trip came during a visit to the Department of Pediatric Medicine when the Ambassador was greeted in the Lincoln David Abraham Paediatric Educational Institute by a group of the medical clowns. The clowns were joined by a special guest from the US, Hilary Chaplain, an accomplished theatrical performer and comedienne who works with the Big Apple Circus. Chaplain, who was brought to Israel by the US Embassy as part of their cultural affairs program, also hosted a workshop for the hospital’s medical clowns teaching them new theatrical techniques and approaches for interacting with patients. (Click to watch film!)
The Ambassador was a great sport as he was joined by Professor Halevy in a performance alongside the clowns where they danced and had their hair done by the attentive clowns. Ambassador Shapiro took the time to speak one on one with patients, including a young girl being prepared for an MRI. Wishing her a speedy recovery in the fluent Hebrew that the US diplomat is renowned for, tears welled up in the eyes of the young girl and her mother as they remarked how excited they were to have been comforted by such a special guest.