By Rochelle Maruch Miller
Out of the ashes of Auschwitz, amid the horrific devastation and despair of the Shoah, the great tzaddik, the Klausenberger Rebbe, created a lifesaving legacy. Rabbi Yekutiel Yehuda Halberstam, whose precious wife and 11 children perished, vowed that were he to survive, he would build a hospital where all people would be accorded the highest-quality medical care. In 1976, Rabbi Halberstam fulfilled his vow by establishing Laniado Hospital, setting standards of excellence in treating every patient with superb medical care with the utmost level of respect and dignity.
Recent events have unfortunately demonstrated that all of Israel is within range of highly destructive enemy missiles, which could include chemical warheads. There has also been a marked increase in violent terrorist attacks from the West Bank and Gaza Strip while threats from Iran, Syria, Egypt, the Sinai, and Lebanon continue unabated. Laniado Hospital, the only medical center for the city of Netanya, announced an urgent campaign to build a secure, protected, state-of-the-art emergency department, trauma center, and underground hospital.
Included among the 75,000 visits to the emergency department each year are neonates, infants, children, adults, and geriatric patients. According to a report released by the Ministry of Health, one in three Israelis nationwide visit the hospital’s emergency department each year.
Building a new facility is of paramount importance to alleviate the serious overcrowding in the 20-year-old existing emergency department, as well as to provide enhanced protection and security to patients, hospital staff, and families during mass casualty events related to war, as well as manmade or natural disasters.
Laniado is the only hospital in Israel whose staff has never participated in the many recurring national hospital strikes. Every patient is accorded the most sophisticated, lifesaving procedures and treatment, regardless of age or ability to pay. Laniado’s extra dimension of commitment to personalized care and patient wellbeing is also expressed by being awarded the highest honor of “5 Stars” from the National Society for a Beautiful Israel for six consecutive years. The hospital was also presented with the coveted Israel Flag Medal as the hospital most dedicated to Israel and to the environment.
The city of Netanya and its surrounding areas have experienced numerous terrorist attacks, including the Passover bombing of the Park Hotel with 29 fatalities. Through it all, Laniado Hospital has been and continues to be at the ready, frequently running disaster drills and training programs. Last summer, Sanz Laniado was chosen by the Israeli authorities to conduct the country’s first extensive earthquake drill, Turning Point 6, including 180 “earthquake victims.” The drill was attended by numerous hospitals, the Ministry of Health, and the Home Front Command. Laniado Hospital received extensive accolades from the participants. The Israel Home Front has established a heliport at the hospital for rapid patient transport.
Sanz Laniado, with the help of the Ministry of Health, has decided to immediately develop the secure emergency/trauma center and protected underground hospital. Dr. Michael Frogel, an internationally recognized expert in disaster medicine and supporter of the hospital for over 10 years, has recently been appointed director of medical affairs for American Friends of Laniado Hospital, with a focus on this project. Dr. Frogel has worked closely in Israel with the MOH, Home Front Command, and the IDF Medical Core, leading courses for doctors from the United States and Canada in disaster medicine and emergency preparedness, as well as participating in Israeli hospital drills and providing a registry of emergency medical volunteers to respond to catastrophic events. Dr. Frogel is committed to rapidly completing the new secure facility, as there is a great need to keep pace with the increasing emergency department utilization while preparing for, G‑d forbid, the imminent threat to the Israeli population.
“Unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of time,” Dr. Frogel told the 5TJT. “There are over 100,000 missiles aimed at the State of Israel from the south and the north, not including Iran. There is also a new threat from the Sinai, from the new Egyptian government. It is important for people to realize how much Israel has invested in protecting its population. Every hospital in Israel has coated windows and features underground scrubbing rooms in the event of a chemical disaster.”
Dr. Frogel continues, “We often think of terror attacks when discussing disaster preparedness, but we have to be prepared for natural disasters, as well. It is essential that a hospital provide a safe and secure setting for patients, staff, and their families, in wartime as well as for routine treatment. Our devoted staff works long hours providing our patients with extraordinary medical care. They can deal with the long hours but they need to be assured that their children are safe and secure. War and other disasters have a tremendous psychological impact. Laniado affords patients, staff, and their families a warm and supportive setting, where helping our patients maintain excellent physical and mental health is the priority.”
For Dr. Frogel, alerting public awareness to the clear and present danger facing Israel is key. “We need to step up to the plate and realize that we cannot sit back and be complacent. The missiles are aimed at Israel; her enemies stand ready to strike at any moment. Time is of the essence.”
The new facility will include a state-of-the-art, 30,000-square-foot, 60-station emergency department and trauma center with four to six trauma bays and a 360-bed hospital. Plans include decontamination stations, air purification systems, protected storage facility, and a secure command center, thereby ensuring the safety of patients, staff, and their families.
Please join American Friends of Laniado Hospital at their annual dinner on Sunday, April 21 at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Battery Park. For further information and reservations, call 212-944-2690 or see the ad on page 59. v