On March 15th, Israel’s President Isaac Herzog visited Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Centre with his wife Michal.  Together they delivered Mishloach Manot packages to patients in the Wilf Children’s Hospital and also met representatives from the medical, paramedical and administrative branches of the hospital.  Staff members shared their personal and professional experiences and challenges over the course of the past two years defined by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The visit, which was hosted by Shaare Zedek Director General Prof. Ofer Merin and Shaare Zedek President Prof. Jonathan Halevy, opened with an emotional stop in the hospital’s Lesley & Leon Berman Paediatric Dialysis Unit where the group spent time with patients and were treated to a musical performance by Israeli music star Ishay Ribo that had been arranged by Tikva U’Marpeh, an organisation that provides ongoing support to children treated in the Unit.  The children were so excited for the visit and presented President Herzog with a specially designed 3D printing of the Israeli Knesset that they had produced together with Nina Chai, an art therapist working in Shaare Zedek’s Lincoln David Abraham Paediatric Educational Institute.

Prof. Merin thanked the President and his wife and shared “Since the very first Jerusalem Covid patient came to Shaare Zedek, and over all the five waves, we were on the front lines with our staff proving their dedication each and every hour of every day. Beyond the professional challenges that defined this period, this pandemic introduced unprecedented personal stresses defined by distancing from families and a constant fear of infecting others. Here in the presence of our nation’s president, we again welcome the chance to thank all of you for your remarkable dedication and passion for your work and our patients and we thank President Herzog for this visit which proves his support for our daily investment on behalf of the people of Jerusalem and Israel.”

Addressing the staff, President Herzog said, “The diverse religious and ethnic makeup of this hospital proves that everyone is created in the image of God and that is a reality that can be seen every day in your medical care. You should know that your dedication is deeply appreciated, and no one can ever underestimate your commitment to life-saving and life-improving care. I particularly want to congratulate Shaare Zedek on 120 years of service to our community which benefits not just Jerusalem but our entire nation.”
Mrs. Herzog added that “One of the most moving aspects of this hospital is the sense of collective pride. And while I know that the past two years were incredibly difficult, I firmly believe that what has allowed you to thrive and succeed on behalf of your patients is that sense of unity that inspires and motivates you at both the happy times and no less so during the challenging ones.”

Dr. Yigal Helvitz, a senior physician in the Intensive Care Unit remarked, “Our medical teams have worked so hard over the past two years, and we were able to save many lives as a result of that commitment which is indeed a mark of immense pride for Shaare Zedek.”
On the occasion of the national day saluting social workers, Dafna Kammer, a social worker in the Weinstock Department of Emergency Medicine said, “This period reinforced for us the importance of emotionally supporting our patients and their families, and the ways that we were able to help our patients were the source of so much pride and strength, even on those toughest of days.”

Dvora Agassi, Director of Tikva U’Marpeh said “During this month where we mark World Kidney Day it is only fitting that the President chose to come and support our nephrology patients. These children, and the medical teams, are true heroes and we are proud to consider them as our children of Tikva U’Marpeh.”

PHOTO CREDIT Chaim Zach, Government Press Office (GPO)