Shaare Zedek’s Director General Prof. Ofer Merin recently joined a team of six medical personnel from the hospital who were dispatched to earthquake-impacted regions within the IDF’s Field Hospital Operations Mission to Turkey. Prof. Ofer Merin, who has led several similar missions to disaster zones around the world, is serving as the mission’s Medical Director, and Commander of the IDF Field Hospital.
“While we know that the conditions we’ll confront will be particularly challenging, we are equipped and trained for just these types of incidents and await the chance to do whatever possible to assist the relief efforts and support the victims during these tragic times,” said Prof. Merin about the mission.
Shaare Zedek’s Mission to Turkey has seen several lives saved so far, beginning with the revival of an abandoned local hospital in the area, which the team decided to re-open. This has allowed Shaare Zedek’s medical team, in collaboration with local doctors, a more appropriate work environment to treat those wounded. A major objective of the mission is to support the local medical infrastructure so they can return to normalcy as quickly as possible.
The Mission to Turkey Team are not only treat physical injuries, but healing emotional trauma as well. Deganit Kobliner, Senior Emergency Department Nurse at Shaare Zedek, recalled one of the victims she encountered earlier in the week, Yasmine. She’s 34 years old and is a refugee of the Syrian town of Allepo. Four years ago, she fled the war torn region with her father, mother, brother, sister, and some cousins. Last Sunday evening, she joined her family in celebrating a nephew’s birthday, and suddenly she felt the entire world around her shaking, as if she was plunging into a bottomless abyss. All she could remember was the horrific sound of a crumbling structure, being surrounded by dust – and then silence. Yasmine lost track of time since the quake changed her life. Her brother and sister had been killed, her parents still trapped under the rubble with their survival very much in doubt.
Dr. Giora Weiser, Director of the Department of Pediatric Emergency Medicine, expressed that this is her third time participating in an outreach mission to other nations, and she is proud to be part of this team and “hope that as Jews from the State Of Israel we continue to do good and make the world better for all.” The medical team is treating young children who were injured, and pulled out of their home’s ruins. Dr. Weiser says “on the one hand, it’s an outstanding miracle they survived so long in such conditions. We help stabilize them and enjoy watching their recovery. Yet in most cases, their survival entails the loss of family and many are left orphaned.”
Although the tragedies seen are not simple to comprehend, the team’s ability to make the difference and help the Turkish people stand up again is a special experience. The patients being treated, both local Turkish victims as well as refugees from Syria who live in the affected region, have welcomed the Israeli teams and expressed their deep appreciation for their support at this critical time. This is yet another part of the hospital’s historic record of involvement with international relief efforts. Shaare Zedek takes great pride in our delegation and all the Israeli teams on the ground in the earthquake zone. Although there is a language and cultural barrier, smiles and outreaching hands have opened up the hearts of the many victims who are being treated—this exemplifies the true gift of all who are part of the Shaare Zedek, Hospital With A Heart, family. May the team continue to do what we do best: Saving, delivering, and changing lives.