19 Sep 2022

Extraordinary Minds

Five years ago, I toured Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv. I was stunned by the scope of the work there, and by the absolute commitment of all staff. The multi-acre campus is home to an eclectic blend of culture, medicine, innovation, and even history. We drove past a series of old barracks from early in Israel’s modern history, and then lo and behold we pulled up in front of a building housing research that is so cutting-edge, I wonder if we are still only in the 21st century.

I also witnessed two wholly different realities that illustrate how complex Israel’s relationship with the Palestinians really is.

In one section of Sheba Medical Center, I saw small Palestinian children being given life-saving treatment by Israeli doctors. Precious children fighting for a chance at life. In their rooms with them were burka-clad mothers and grandmothers.

A few minutes later, I was on another floor, just down the hall from a very special patient. During one of the actions against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, an IDF soldier was running into a building when a shell exploded in a courtyard just behind him. A piece of shrapnel hit him in the head and left him between life and death, and, in a sense, he is still in that frozen moment in time.

The soldier’s brain injuries were so severe that they wouldn’t let me see him. In fact, I don’t know a lot of detail of his present condition, but I know they are learning how to help him and future patients. His mother did come out to speak with me; she is there with him every day, and will be for the rest of her life. Her advocacy for him, I was told by a doctor, has inspired all of them to push their own limits in order to give him some quality of life.

In the past five years, I’ve remembered him and his mother. Here they are, in the same facility as children of Palestinians that live in Gaza. Their political and religious and cultural differences melt away in some sense, as the goal among Sheba’s staff is to save and improve quality of life.

There is also a section of the hospital complex dedicated to Ariel Sharon and his beloved wife, Lily, who were supporters of the hospital.

I tell you these stories because I read this week in the Jerusalem Post that Newsweek has named Sheba Medical Center the 13th best “smart” hospital. I’m not surprised.

“’We are committed to continuing to lead in the development and implementation of medical innovation, in clinical research and in treatment to meet the medical challenges of the coming decade,’ said Prof. Yitshak Kreiss, Director General of Sheba Medical Center. ‘This is how we can provide each and every patient with the most advanced, personal and best treatment.’”

The research even includes AI research!

“Prof. Eyal Zimlichman, Deputy Director General of Medicine and Innovation at Sheba, added: ‘We are proud at Sheba to receive the international recognition that all our employees deserve. Their hard work and dedication make the innovation and high quality of care at Sheba possible. The digital transformation process which started at Sheba a few years ago, and includes the implementation of Artificial Intelligence, telemedicine, robotics and digital tools for the patient, helps us achieve our goals of high quality, effective and efficient care.’”

Get this: Sheba sees one million patients per year! One million. The staff includes over 1,200 doctors and 2,300 nurses.

I applaud Sheba Medical Center for the recognition it receives, but more for the selfless and total dedication its staff gives to patients from a wide variety of backgrounds.

It is a leading light not only in Israel and the Middle East, but in the world.