by Lauren Leigh

During my latest visit to Israel, I was fortunate enough to have been given a tour around Shaare Zedek hospital in Jerusalem. I am a trustee of a charity and spokesperson for a hospital in London – in fact, a hospital that works closely with Shaare Zedek – so it was something that was important for me to do, taking into account all the great work they do.

Before even beginning the tour, the first thing that struck me was the sheer diversity of people walking through the hospital reception. Israel may be a Jewish country, but there are many nationalities and religions dwelling within the golden walls of Jerusalem and the hospital treats each and every one of them with no judgement or bias. I come from London, a city of multiculturalism at its finest, but never have I seen such a diverse mix of people as within the walls of Shaare Zedek.

On my tour, I was taken first to the Cardiothoracic wing which was extremely impressive. The new wing is vast and has resources that many other hospitals don’t have. The patients don’t need to leave the wing as all their surgeries are now done within the same wing which of course cuts risk of infection. Following on from that, the hospital infection rate is at a record low.

I was profoundly affected by the maternity and neonatal intensive care units which have recently expanded and now support the birth of 15,000 babies a year – again, record breaking. The doctors, nurses, diversity of patients and statistics and resources impressed me a great deal and I would encourage anyone with an interest and fondness towards NICU’s to donate towards this wing.

The main reason I wanted to see the hospital in the first place was because of the Complementary Therapy unit. I was introduced to Dr Menachem Oberbaum, the head of the clinic and we found we had lots to talk about. What struck me the most was the pioneering concept that the hospital has taken on. Their complementary therapy department lives within their mainstream hospital, which is something that has never been done in the UK or US. They have seen huge improvements in patient care because of complementary therapy, including homeopathy, being so readily available. The best thing about it is that the patients don’t have to do anything, the complementary therapy doctors come to them and treat them from their bedside or clinic.

If I have learned anything over the years as a patient with a chronic illness, as well as working within the hospitals and with patients, it is that a completely integrated approach to healthcare is what works best – certainly that is the only way that I managed to eventually achieve remission – and by running a hospital in a way that suits and works for the patients, not the businessmen behind the façade or the pharmaceutical companies supporting them, the best results are seen and we can see this with Shaare Zedek. They have managed to do something completely innovative and pioneering and their efforts show in the end results – the patient recovery process.

My tour around Shaare Zedek has encouraged me to work towards bringing this initiative to the UK and I will do my best to see this happen.