Spearheading an Expansion at Hadassah Mount Scopus


Dr. Tamar Elram, an obstetrician-gynecologist, age 50, has been head of the 350-bed Mount Scopus hospital since 2017, responsible for its staff of 1,200 and almost 300,000 patients each year as well as for its operations, maintenance and development. But she still relishes her clinical work. “Continuing to practice gynecology keeps my feet on the ground,” she said, “and my eyes at patient level.”

Whether serving individuals or an institution, “you impact people in every encounter and must therefore always exercise your responsibility and authority in the best way,” she said. Treating patients, she added, “is a privilege to be cherished, and so is leading Hadassah Mount Scopus—especially now, as it embarks on a massive expansion.”

This expansion is in response to the medical needs of Jerusalem, which is among the country’s fastest-growing urban regions and has the highest proportion of elderly residents in Israel. Among the additions planned for the 86-year-old hospital campus are seven new buildings that “will change the skyline to the northeast of the city,” said Dr. Elram.

Almost five years ago, Dr. Elram came to Mount Scopus after directing another Jerusalem hospital, Misgav Ladach. Originally from England, her family moved to Jerusalem when she was 5 years old. By the time of her bat mitzvah, she had decided on a medical career and ultimately attended the Hadassah-Hebrew University School of Medicine.

She has served as assistant to Israel’s Health Ministry director-general and as the deputy director of Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem. In addition to directing a busy hospital, leading its expansion and spending time with her family, Dr. Elram is a poet who writes about women, motherhood and medicine.

“I love taking on challenges, creating work procedures, pushing forward building projects and addressing organizational culture,” she said.

Among those challenges is figuring out how best to lead—in ordinary times, in times of stress, such as the pandemic, as well as during transitions—a subject she has thought long and hard about.

For her part, Dr. Elram attributes much of the success of the hospital to her staff and teamwork. “Things work, medically, administratively, planning-wise because the team functions brilliantly, embraces appropriate values and makes what we do easy,” she said.

In the years since Dr. Elram took the reins, the hospital has totally renovated its emergency centre and opened its first trauma unit. The number of births at Mount Scopus has increased by over 30 percent thanks to a renovated and expanded delivery department, part of the new Rady Mother and Child Centre. And, with financial support from the United States Agency for International Development, the hospital has opened Hadassah’s first cardiac rehabilitation unit and completed northern Jerusalem’s first cardiac catheterization laboratory, where 1,000 procedures are performed each year.

The changes in maternity and cardiac care are just the beginning. Today, there are cranes and construction workers on the hospital’s 28-acre campus, finishing the eight-story Gandel Rehabilitation Centre, named a “priority strategic project” by the Israeli government. Replacing Hadassah Mount Scopus’s modest 50-year-old rehabilitation facility, which crowded four to five patients per room, the Gandel centre is scheduled to open early next year with cutting-edge research and rehabilitation facilities, including hydro-, physio- and occupational therapies as well as clinics, outpatient areas and a healing garden on its roof. Four inpatient wings, with a total of 132 beds (in contrast to the current 38) are also being planned for the new centre, with treatment areas including rehabilitation for neurological, orthopaedic, spinal cord injury, geriatric and ventilator-dependent cases.

“Hadassah’s is the only rehab facility for greater Jerusalem’s 1.2 million-plus residents, and currently it’s able to cope with just 30 percent of the need,” explained Dr. Elram. “The Gandel centre will be the country’s largest. Without exaggeration, it’s among the most important projects underway in Israel today.”

The Gandel centre is the first of the new construction projects planned for Hadassah Mount Scopus, the older of Hadassah’s two Jerusalem campuses. In the coming decades, six more buildings are slated to join the centre, among them a 14-story inpatient tower and a new emergency centre. The original 1930s building—when it opened, considered among the most modern hospital buildings in the Middle East—will be conserved, its use yet to be determined. Also planned is an electric power generation station, a helipad, a hotel for patient families and a commercial area near the Mount Scopus light rail station.

For spearheading these changes at Mount Scopus as well as for her extensive clinical work, Dr. Elram is frequently recognized as a leader in her field. In 2019, Lady Globes magazine included her as one of the “50 Most Influential Women in Key Positions in Israel,” citing her leadership abilities and the transformations at Mount Scopus.

Editor’s notes:

This is an excerpt from an article by Wendy Elliman, first published in Hadassah Magazine. 


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