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Soroka Physicians in Service around the World

Friday, May 2, 2014

Soroka Medical Center is one of Israel’s largest hospitals and the busiest. Soroka is the sole major medical center in the Negev, the southern half of Israel, responsible for the healthcare of more than a million people including 400,000 children in an area than encompasses more than 60% of Israel’s landmass and includes a wonderfully diverse population of veteran and new immigrant Jews from around the world and Israeli Bedouin.

Soroka is a level one trauma center and includes centers of excellence in fields such as genetics, pediatric trauma and infectious diseases, cardio-thoracic surgery, and more. Soroka is the teaching hospital of the Medical School of Ben-Gurion University, whose Faculty of Health Sciences is located on the hospital campus, as well as the Medical School for International Health of the Columbia University Medical Center.

Each year, Soroka cares for more than 500,000 outpatient and clinic visits, 200,000 emergency cases, 80,000 hospitalizations fill its 1,100 beds, over 33,000 surgical procedures are performed, and more than 15,000 babies are born. Its neonatal and pediatric departments provide family-centered intensive care with world-class survival rates.

Soroka’s physicians travel in mobile units to care for patients in remote clinics as part of Soroka’s community outreach programs. Soroka educates the Negev’s diverse population in preventive care and public health. Soroka is also the largest employer in the Negev, with more than 4,200 employees, including more than 800 new immigrants on staff at all levels of responsibility.

In addition to their service at Soroka, the physicians of Soroka Medical Center provide medical care and treatment to populations in need around the world, on an ongoing basis and in response to the trauma of natural disasters.  A few examples include:

Neonatal Care in Ghana — The chairperson and physicians of Soroka’s Neonatal Care Center are also deeply involved in bringing the best neonatal care to developing countries. Since 2002 the team has been involved in a large and unique program in Ghana in collaboration with the Israel Ministry of External Affairs and the Millennium Cities Initiative.  This program is aimed at reducing infant mortality and applies innovative concepts of low cost interventions and sustainability.  The project includes physicians and nurses from the Neonatal Department and is performed primarily on a voluntary basis.

Typhoon in the PhilippinesIn the wake of the disastrous typhoon in the Philippines, physicians from Soroka went to help: Dr. Erez Tsomani, an ophthalmologist, and Dr. Daniel Gropel, an internist.  Dr. Gropel: “We saw terrible destruction.  Entire neighborhoods turned into ruins, bodies strewn by the wayside, sewerage flowing in the streets, no clean water or electricity.  We treated thousands of patients, some with chronic diseases, respiratory tract and skin infections.  During our time there, we were in fact the sole providers of ongoing medical care.”

Earthquake in HaitiThe Israeli medical relief mission that established a significant field hospital in Port-au-Prince to treat victims of the earthquake included five physicians from Soroka Medical Center.  Dr. Carmi Bar Tal, Head of the internal medicine ER at Soroka, was in charge of triage, emergency medicine, and hospitalization.  Dr. Gilbert Sabbag, who heads a surgical ward at Soroka, directed the surgical ER.  Dr. Lior Zeller, a senior internist and rheumatologist, served as head of adult in-patient care.  Dr. Avi Yitzhak, a Soroka surgeon, served on the surgical team in Haiti.  Dr. Erez Karp, an internist at Soroka, provided ER care.

Tsunami in JapanDr. Orly Weinstein, an ophthalmologist who also serves as an associate director at Soroka Medical Center, was instrumental in establishing the Israeli field hospital in Minamisanriku, Japan, which was devastated by the tsunami and almost half of whose people perished in the tragedy.
NepalDr. Navis Singh completed a fellowship at Soroka focusing on orthopedic trauma.  Dr. Singh is a senior orthopedist at a hospital in Patan, Nepal, and has since also invited Soroka physicians to guest lecture at the new medical school in Patan.  One of the participating Soroka physicians is Dr. Amir Korngreen, head of the orthopedic trauma unit at Soroka, who has since visited Nepal several times to lecture and demonstrate orthopedic trauma surgical techniques. Dr. Kafri Carlos, head of the cardiac catheterization unit at Soroka, has volunteered in Katmandu mentoring local physicians there.

Ophthalmologists in Ethiopia – Dr. Itamar Klemperer, deputy head of the Ophthalmology Department at Soroka, and Tsira Botwright, who heads the Soroka ophthalmology OR team, served as part of a medical mission to provide sight-saving eye surgery in Ethiopia.  The team performed more than one hundred and fifty surgeries that included removal of cataracts and tumors and the eyes of pediatric patients.

Rwanda Prof. Asher Bashiri volunteered at the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village for orphaned and vulnerable youth where he met with widowed and adopting mothers and guided them in basic healthcare, such as identifying shortness of breath in children as a sign of asthma.  He also volunteered at the local hospital in Rwamagana where he taught local medical staff in obstetrics and delivery and instructed in use of technology such as ultrasound equipment. 

Pediatric Infectious Diseases around the WorldProf. Ron Dagan of Soroka Medical Center is a world-recognized expert in the field of pediatric infectious diseases. He has served as the President of the European Society for Paediatric Infectious Diseases (ESPID) and also of the World Society for Pediatric Infectious Diseases (WSPID).  Prof. Dagan serves on many Israeli and international committees, advisory boards, and medical journal editorial boards regarding vaccinations and pediatric infectious diseases. His breakthrough work and research have led to the introduction and improvement of vaccination programs for children worldwide, especially in the fields of digestive tract and respiratory tract infections and the problems of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the developing world.

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In the United States:
American Friends of
Soroka Medical Center
Rachel Heisler Sheinfeld
PO Box 184-H
Scarsdale, NY 10583
Telephone: 914725-9070
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