Sunday, July 07, 2013

Wounded Syrians Find Treatment Within Israel's Hospitals

Nadene Goldfoot                                                                       

                                                  Rambam Hospital in Haifa, Israel
Having  lived in Safed (Tzfat) from 1981 to the end of 1985 and having been there during the Lebanon War, I know that the hospital on my corner that was across the street from the public junior high school on David Elezar Street was treating Lebanese Arabs that were injured.   Safed is in the northern Galilee and was a stone's throw away from the borders of Lebanon and Syria.

Injured Lebanese were brought in by helicopter, and my students were afraid that their family members might be among the wounded as well.  Most all of our students were traumatized during the war.  I was there and couldn't teach much English when they were all cowering with fear for their dads in the classroom corners, but my droning voice seemed to steady them, for if I stopped talking, they'd cry out to keep on going.

My 9th grade boys were asked to help the hospital by translating and anything else they could do for the staff.  They told me about it in class the next day.  These boys were pretty shook up by the wounds they would see, but glad they could do something both for the patients and the medical staff.

Today, Israel's medical care continues to help wounded Syrians from the Civil War.  They've been doing this since last February when it was reported and it was  ignored by the major news wires such as BBC.

The number of Syrians treated is higher than previously thought and increasing numbers of patients are children.  "Two minors injured in Syrian fighting were transferred to a hospital in Israel on Wednesday, June 25, 2013.  They were boys, 9 and 15 and were transferred to  Ziv Hospital in Safed for treatment, the same hospital near the junior high which I have also been in.  The 9 year old had moderate injuries from shrapnel wounds across his body and he also lost his right eye.  This was reported in the Maariv newspaper.  The 15 year old was in serious condition.

Today, a wounded Syrian is guarded by either an IDF soldier or by a civilian security guard in order to isolate them  from speaking with unauthorized people who might photograph them or pass on their information to Syria.  This would harm them or their families by exposing them being in an Israeli hospital.  When they would return to Syria they could be killed for being there.  You must remember that there are Israeli Arabs in the hospital as well as Jews.

More than 100 wounded Syrians have crossed the border in recent months.  Some 70 have been taken to Israeli hospitals.  Two have passed away because of critical injuries.

Safed's hospital is not the only one actively treating Syrians.  Patients have also been treated at the Western Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya; Rarmbam Hospital in Haifa  an army hospital, another one I've been treated in; and Poriya Hospital in Tiberias.  All of these medical facilities in the north of Israel have Arabic-speaking social workers, trauma specialists and nurses.

As for finances, in Israel treatment in a hospital is normally paid for by the patient's particular medical insurance company, just like in the USA, but Syrian patients do not have insurance, so Israel's Health Ministry and Defense Ministry agreed to jointly fund the hospital treatment for the Syrians.  No doubt that the UN is not helping out but I think they should.  This is humanitarian care of the finest.

The case seems to me to be that if there's anything good that Israel is doing, it will never make the papers.  Let something be said that is just nasty gossip about Israel, and it makes the world's papers.

In my first year after making aliyah to Israel in September 1980, I wound up in two of these hospitals.  I fell down in Haifa during my ulpan living and was taken to Rambam where 3 doctors operated on my crushed elbow for 3 hours and where I learned the Hebrew words, Koh-ev Lee (there is pain to me, or Ow!  I'm hurting!)  Later when living in Safed, I choked on a chicken bone and finally went to the hospital where I was placed in an astronaut capsule and turned upside down, like in a carnival ride.  Oh, I was there so many times, I can't recall them all.  It was a great hospital.  It's where my doctors were.  Being immigrants, we signed up for the cheapest insurance and never had a moment's worry about paying.  The insurance covered everything.

Book:  Letters From Israel by Nadene Goldfoot-on

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