Rambam Healthcare Campus – making a difference
By ALAN ROSENBAUM
Prof. Rafael (Rafi) Beyar bubbles with enthusiasm about the new developments and leadership at the sprawling hospital campus in Haifa. The former director of Rambam Healthcare Campus, recently retired after 13 years, enthuses, “Rambam is close to my heart, and my associate, Dr. Miki Halberthal, the hospital’s director, is doing a great job.”
“One of the major long-term projects that has been completed and is functional in the new campus is the Sammy Ofer Fortified Underground Emergency Hospital,” he says. Conceived after the Second Lebanon War in 2006, when 60 rockets fell within a half-mile radius of the hospital, the facility converts from a three-level underground 1,500-vehicle parking garage into a 2,000-bed hospital within 72 hours. Beyar notes the need for the emergency facility, saying, “In view of the threat that still stands to the north of Israel, we continue to put this hospital at the frontier of treatment of any types of crisis in the North of Israel or the entire country.” While the underground facility has not been deployed, Prof. Beyar says the hospital staff has been extensively trained and is ready for its use in the future, if necessary.
Although the underground hospital is essential for sustaining Rambam in times of attack, “what is more important,” says Beyar, “is what is happening above ground.” He is referring to three major clinical buildings that have been completed or are in advanced stages of development: the Ruth Rapaport Children’s Hospital, the Josef Fishman Oncology Center, and the Eyal Ofer Heart Hospital.
The children’s hospital, the only such facility in Israel’s North, is colorful, spacious and lively. The atmosphere, he says, “makes a huge difference for the children,” and the hospital contains a playground where children in the outpatient clinic can play while waiting for their appointments. The oncology center provides cancer patients with state-of-the-art professional care, and the heart hospital will house clinical and surgical treatments and healthy living programs – including patient counseling and rehabilitation – in one center.
For Beyar, a pioneering cardiologist, researcher, inventor and entrepreneur, the most exciting development is the structure that is being built in the center of the campus – the Helmsley Health Discovery Tower, a 20-story building which, he explains, “integrates medicine, academia, and industry.” Established through a major donation from the Helmsley Foundation, and partnered with the University of Haifa, the Discovery Tower will be a hub to foster novel ideas for the transformation of healthcare at the local, national and global levels.
Beyar, who heads the steering committee for the Discover Tower, adds, “It will generate innovation, and will expand the unique expertise of the Israeli Start-Up Nation. I call it the Israeli Start-Up ‘life nation,’ because it will focus on life science.” The building will include medically oriented facilities, medical engineering, and hi-tech medical start-ups. It is expected to become operational in 2022.
“I think that what makes Rambam Healthcare Campus unique is that it combines medicine, technology and humanity,” says Beyar. Rambam is well-known for its quality care, treating more trauma victims than any other hospital in Israel, and its percentage of trauma survivors is the highest in the country. “Caring for patients, speaking to them, and the beautiful coexistence that we have here, between all religions and all disciplines – everyone working to save lives – is the nice thing that we see at Rambam.” Citing the medical staff of Jewish, Arab, and Druze professionals, Beyar says, “People at Rambam of different backgrounds work together, shoulder-to-shoulder. It’s amazing to see how it’s done, and it can be a lesson for other parts of our society.”
Beyar, who serves as the president of the Rambam International Friends Organizations, says, “Each donor can find something personally appealing at Rambam. Some want to provide security for Israel; others want to support coexistence, while some encourage science and engineering. We could not have achieved all of these things over the last decade without the help of our friends around the world. And, to continue our accomplishments, we ask for continued help and friendship from our supporters.”
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