On the Front Line of Saving Lives at Soroka Medical Center
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Soroka Medical Center, located in Beer-Sheva, is one of Israel’s largest, most active, and most strategically significant hospitals, serving more than million residents in a region that comprises 60% of the country’s land area. In light of the hospital’s location, the Department of Emergency Medicine and the Trauma Unit face unique challenges. We are proud that this department was declared a National Center of Excellence by Clalit Health Services this year.
When it was opened in its new format in 2001, the Emergency Department (ED) at Soroka was the most modern such facility in the country. Even then it was busy and crowded. Today, it has become the busiest and most crowded in Israel, with more than 248,000 visits annually. It is safe to say that few EDs around the world have a comparable scope of activity.
Soroka Medical Center found itself once again on the front lines of emergency medical and trauma care in its role as “Israel’s Iron Dome for Health” during the IDF’s Operation Protective Edge. The Negev region, Israel’s southern front, was subjected to heavy barrages of rocket fire from Gaza. The ensuing ground operation resulted in hundreds of our soldiers and civilians being wounded, many critically.
Over the course of this difficult, stressful, and uncertain two-month period, as a direct result of the conflict, Soroka’s devoted ED and Trauma Unit staff cared for 1,259 patients, including 775 soldiers and 484 civilians who were wounded or suffered trauma during the military operation. Soldiers sustained internal injuries and wounds to the head, eyes, and limbs. Civilians suffered from shrapnel injuries and emotional trauma. The most severely wounded were brought by evacuation helicopter directly to Soroka Medical Center.
Our past experiences, including Operation Protective Edge and many escalations since then, most recently with a critically wounded soldier, who was airlifted directly from within the Gaza Strip to Soroka, and left the hospital walking a week later, have brought to light
- The number of currently available treatment bays in the ED is not sufficient for patient needs, and certainly not for the expected growth in the population of the Negev. Adequate space for multiple casualties was lacking during the last major security emergency. Ever-increasing patient loads demand that we expand to open additional treatment bays.
- Six stations are not enough for our Trauma Unit. Operation Protective Edge demonstrated very decisively that we are in urgent need of at least two additional trauma stations.
- The ambulatory emergency area is too small. We need to add treatment stations in this area for the benefit of our patients.
- The triage area is where patients, especially battle and disaster victims, are first diagnosed and treatment is allocated according to a system of priorities designed to maximize the number of survivors. This area is too small for our actual needs and must be expanded