Soroka Medical Center: Israel’s Iron Dome for Health

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

As the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) commences “Operation Protective Edge”, Israeli Air Force planes have begun hitting targets in Gaza in response to escalating missile attacks on the south of the country. Over 120 Hamas terrorist rockets were launched against Israeli civilians in the past 24 hours, including several longer-range missiles targeting Be’er Sheva. Soroka Medical Center, located in Be’er Sheva and the sole major medical center for the entire south of Israel, is responding to the situation by taking steps to prepare for any eventuality, and to ensure the safety of its patients, especially those in units not yet “protected” against missile attack. Dr. Ehud Davidson, Director of Soroka Medical Center, stated that “in light of the escalation in the security situation in the south we have begun deployment.  We are currently in the midst of an operation to move the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) to sheltered quarters.  We are moving babies, families, and staff, including 23 preemies, five of whom are on respirators, and 34 additional newborns.” The hospital is operating in concert with the Home Front Command and the Supreme Hospitalization Authority. All personnel in critical positions (surgeons, trauma and Emergency Room specialists, anesthesiologists, nurses and others) are on call and ready to be at the hospital within a very short time, day or night. Unfortified departments have been transferred to protected areas and additional operating rooms were opened there. The blood bank supplies have been augmented, as has medical equipment and medication inventories.

The Soroka Neonatal department is the busiest and one of the leading neonatal departments in Israel. Its building is not protected against rocket attack: given our great concern for the safety of the tiniest and most vulnerable of the patients for whom we care, we have decided that we must now move them to a protected area within the hospital.” The Minister of Health, Member of Knesset Mrs. Yael German, visited Soroka Medical Center to see firsthand the preparedness of the hospital in light of the escalation in the security situation in the area. She visited the temporary neonatal ward set up last night to accommodate dozens of newborns and preemies, some in critical condition. MK German: “The Soroka neonatal ward staff carried out an unimaginable feat, swiftly moving the department and its tiny patients. Very few countries in the world need ever cope with such a reality. The Soroka staff certainly deserve a badge of merit for their speedy, intense but extremely careful work”.

The Soroka NICU staff has gained experience in this type of emergency evacuation during Operation Cast Lead, Operation Pillar of Defense, and additional escalations of the security situation during recent years. Just last month, Dr. Agneta Golan, the director of the Soroka NICU, visited New York City (NYC) for the American Friends of Soroka Medical Center Gala, that was dedicated to raising the funds necessary to build a new, protected building. While in NYC, she visited the New York University Medical Center NICU, in solidarity with her American colleagues who had to evacuate the NYU NICU during Hurricane Sandy. Since 2008 Soroka has had to relocate its unit five times for safety. This heart-wrenching and dramatic operation is undertaken in consultation with the IDF Home Front Command, and only when the risk of staying in place exceeds the risk of the relocation.
Soroka Medical Center

  • One of Israel’s largest and its busiest hospital. Soroka is the sole major Medical Center for the entire Negev, which comprises 60% of Israel’s land.
  • An intensely multi-cultural hospital, serving as an example and symbol of peaceful co-existence.
  • Centers of excellence within the hospital include trauma care, cancer care, genetics, clinical research, pediatrics, and psychiatric care.
  • The hospital is responsible for the health and emergency care of a million people including 400,000 children and many Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers, since it serves as the only medical center on the southern front. Soroka must now grow by 30% given anticipated rapid population growth, the IDF moving more bases and operations to the Negev, and Be’er Sheva’s evolving transformation into a high-tech center.

For more information or to arrange an interview please contact Danielle Lerner at or Rachel Heisler Sheinfeld, Executive Director, American Friends of Soroka Medical Center at 914725-9070 or email us. In Hebrew: Inbar Gutar, Soroka Medical Center Spokesperson: .il 011972-0506263063

Learn more about the Soroka NICU here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDNIucAqMjo

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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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