Where Modern Medicine and Religious Observance Share Pride of Place
Until 1990, Bnei Brak, one of Israel’s largest Haredi cities, had no hospital to serve its almost 100,000-and-counting population. The risk to life and practical challenges it presented were great. When Dr. Moshe Rothschild established Mayanei Hayeshua in the heart of Bnei Brak, he foresaw the revolution it would mean for the city and for religious Jews all over Israel.
Founded as a community hospital, Mayanei Hayeshua Medical Center (MYMC) is a public hospital with a unique mission: To provide cutting-edge medical services with strict adherence to Jewish tradition and Halacha, and the sanctity of life and human dignity as a fundamental and supreme value.
Mayanei Hayeshua literally means “Springs of Salvation,” named after Reb Yehoshua Frischwasser, who was the chief donor in the establishment of the hospital. Frischwasser means a spring, and Yehoshua comes from the root word for salvation. No philanthropist’s name could have been more apt for an establishment whose prime purpose is to save and prolong lives.
But how was it possible for one man to envision something so great and bring it to fruition almost singlehandedly?
In Switzerland – Dr. Rothschild’s birthplace – there was a hospital for every city with a population of twenty thousand people. As a resident and medical practitioner in Bnei Brak, he recognized the necessity for a local hospital that would answer the particular needs of the religious inhabitants of the city: provide medical services of the highest standards without compromising on the characteristic spiritual level of the environment and the most meticulous dictates of Halacha.
When the Gedolei HaDor – the Steipler Gaon, Rabbi Elazar Menachem Shach, and the Baba Sali, ztz”l – gave him the green light and much encouragement, he set out to raise the necessary funds. “I never thought I would become a schnorrer when I grew up, but life often surpasses all imagination,” Dr. Rothschild says with a wry smile.
He scraped together every penny he could get his hands on, and finally had enough to purchase the land.
Still, people were skeptical. “Dr. Rothschild has gone crazy,” said some in furtive whispers. The mayor of Bnei Brak sent him a letter stating: “You’ll be throwing money down the drain if you think you can build a hospital in Bnei Brak.” Even his lawyer tried to dissuade him by telling him he had competition for the plot of land he wanted to purchase. “A Frenchman has expressed interest in building a public swimming pool on that plot, which is a far more practical investment.” But Dr. Rothschild stood firm and made a ten-percent down payment on an orchard for sale not far from his home. Not long afterwards, the foundation stone for the hospital was laid in the presence of Gedolei Yisrael.
From a hospital that was predominantly a maternity ward, today Mayanei Hayeshua comprises fifteen departments and 45 outpatient clinics, and ranks third in Israel in the number of births per year, with an annual growth rate of approximately 10%. It employs a professional team of 1,000 highly qualified staff members, who maintain high standards of service, while a large group of volunteers provides a wide range of support services, day and night.
Dedicated General, Pediatric & Maternity ERs, Internal Medicine, Intensive and Intermediate Care Units, Coronary Intensive Care, Gastroenterology, Dialysis, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Pediatrics, Cardiac Catheterization Unit & Heart Institute are just a few of the departments at Mayanei Hayeshua. The hospital also operates a variety of specialist outpatient clinics in the fields of Nephrology, Mental Health, Diabetes, ENT, Nuclear Medicine, Neurology, Orthopedic Surgery, Urogynecology, Male Fertility and Rheumatology, as well as a modern Imaging Institute, Pain Clinic, Voice Clinic, and paramedical services.
Particularly well-known is the large Obstetrics and Gynecology ward which includes delivery rooms, a maternity and gynecology clinic, high-risk pregnancy department, neonatal unit and NICU.
Mayanei Hayeshua has grown and expanded over the years and today serves over 200,000 patients a year. Other annual figures are also astounding: 6,000 operations, 300 patient beds, 13,000 obstetrical deliveries, 62,000 emergency room visits and a turnover of $65 million per annum. That’s quite an achievement for a hospital whose necessity had been dubious.
An additional 20,000 square-meter hospital tower was recently inaugurated and houses the Psychiatry Unit, Nephrology and Dialysis Unit, Department of Pediatrics and a third Maternity Ward. The new Cardiology and Geriatric Centers are currently under construction and are scheduled to open in late 2017. Some existing departments have been renovated and expanded in the current building (with an area of 16,500 square meters) including renovation of the existing Gastroenterology Unit, and new CT and MRI facilities in the Radiology Unit, as well as development of other new services and equipment with the latest advancements in medical technology.
In the last five years, MYMC tripled the scope of its activities – an unprecedented feat for an Israeli hospital – and continues to break the glass ceiling in many areas of medicine and technology.
One of the hospital’s prime goals in recent years has been to raise awareness in mental health, as well as reduce the stigma and prejudice that prevent many from seeking help. The new Psychiatric Unit, named “Marbeh Da’at” by Rav Kanievsky, operates under the guidance of Gedolei Yisrael, and makes this goal a reality in a newly inaugurated Psychiatry Building with modern design and all the comforts of a hotel.
“The public is unaware of the extent of the problems existing in all educational institutions, from schools to yeshivot and girls’ seminaries,” says Dr. Rothschild, hospital President.“This sector of the population has been highly neglected and no hospital or institution has ever been able to fully meet the unique needs and requirements of certain communities.”
Professor Yisrael Strous, Director of Mayanei Hayeshua’s Psychiatric Department and one of Israel’s leading specialists in the field of psychiatry (and resident of Ramat Beit Shemesh), stresses, “Mental illness is a common phenomenon in all sectors of the population and this is the first and only hospital in the country with an holistic approach to treating both adults and pediatrics as well as offering the discretion and sensitivity required by some communities. Anyone is welcome to use our services, but the atmosphere and program are aimed specifically at providing a solution for certain sectors of the population and are run according to halachic guidelines. There is an optional afternoon seder for limud Torah, and men’s and women’s wards and activities are completely separate, on separate floors, with only male staff in men’s wards and only female staff for women.”
Advanced medical services and capabilities include operating room facilities and equipment for both conventional and endoscopic surgery. A new state-of-the-art digital mammography machine with sophisticated computer and digital technology enables early detection of breast pathology, yields better and faster image analysis and is safer with lower radiation exposure. In addition, the medical and nursing staff keep up-to-date with the latest medical developments by participating regularly in professional courses and international academic symposia.
But Mayanei Hayeshua’s concept of advanced technology extends even to the support systems that function behind the scenes to make the administration of medicine possible. The hospital employs the most advanced computer and information systems and is a pioneer in the field of computerized medical records in Israel. This technology enables the transfer of medical information directly to the patient’s computerized record from the various departments within MHMC as well as from external parties. This reduces the number of errors, enables the concentration of a patient’s full medical data in one file, and facilitates the collection of information for research purposes. Plans are already underway to integrate all hospital databases into the national medical information interface.
MYMC is also the first medical center to develop unique medical applications for tablet PCs. Our medical teams use tablets to monitor a patient’s medical condition at any time and from any place, or receive rapid test results, that enable decisions in real time regarding treatment.
Even green awareness is an integral part of the hospital’s philosophy, with investment of considerable efforts and measures to increase efficiency, reduce pollutant emissions, save money and make prudent use of resources. Green projects include a hybrid hot water system that ensures a reduction of 75% in the energy consumption required for heating water for all the hospital’s needs.
In addition, a new environment-friendly chiller-fridge saves 30% on electricity consumption through lower refrigeration costs and increased cooling capacity, and the replacement of a diesel-oil heating system in the hospital laundry with a gas-operated system also reduces costs and waste of resources.
So what really distinguishes Mayanei Hayeshua from its counterparts? The fact that it upholds age-old Jewish values, laws and traditions? Or its uncompromising pledge to ensure patients receive top-notch treatment from leading medical experts in state-of the-art facilities? Or perhaps the investment of significant resources in keeping abreast of the latest advances in medical technology?
MYMC somehow successfully knits together these lofty objectives without detracting from the importance of any one, giving equal reverence to the expertise of medical staff, medical innovation and Torah jurisdiction. All activity operates under the expertise of Israel’s leading physicians and medical specialists in tandem with the direction and guidance of some of Israel’s most distinguished rabbinical authorities who determine the spiritual milieu and any day-to-day matters that require a psak halacha. The Rabbinical Council is headed by Maran HaGaon HaGadol Rabbi Nissim Karelitz Shlita, Maran HaGaon HaGadol Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky Shlita, and Maran HaGaon HaGadol Rabbi Yitzhak Zilberstein Shlita.
What began as a modest community hospital in Bnei Brak, for Bnei Brak, has rapidly grown into a nationally renowned medical center where Haredi and orthodox Jews from all over Israel and abroad feel most comfortable receiving the medical treatment they need. All that’s left is to keep on growing and greet Moshiach on his way in.
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