Mark Addleman

19 December 2023

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Since October 7, more than 10,580 Israelis have been wounded in the war with Hamas in Gaza, attacks along the Lebanon border, and terrorist attacks in the West Bank, according to the Health Ministry. The latest figures provided by the Defense Ministry indicate that 6,125 of the wounded are IDF soldiers and members of the Israel Police and other security forces. Of these, 2,005 have already been recognised as permanently disabled.


The number of physically and emotionally injured will only grow as the war continues, and many will require intensive and long-term rehabilitation.


It is expected that many Israelis wounded in the war will require in-patient and out-patient rehabilitation for severe physical injuries in combination with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Health Ministry information shared with the Knesset indicated that Israel is not prepared to handle the number of wounded soldiers and civilians, along with other patients needing rehabilitation after surgery or illness.


At the war’s outbreak on October 7, Israel had 780 rehabilitation beds, but by October 18 only 150 were still available for new patients. If all bureaucratic obstacles were removed, enough staff hired, and enough equipment available, the country could offer a total of 1,225 beds. Health authorities are making a major push to meet the demand for expanded facilities and treatment, but the question remains whether it can all be done in time.


“The war has highlighted our deficiencies in rehabilitation and mental health treatment,” Dr. Tamar Elram, Director of the Hadassah Mount Scopus hospital in Jerusalem, told The Times of Israel.’’


Even before the war broke out on October 7, Israel lagged behind other countries in terms of spaces for patients in rehabilitation facilities. Whereas the OECD average for rehab beds per 1,000 persons is 0.5, Israel has only 0.3 (60 percent of the average). Statistics indicate that Israel falls short of countries such as Germany (2.0), Poland (1.8) and Switzerland (0.8). It also has fewer rehab spots than Belgium and Italy.


In addition to trailing other Western countries in overall capacity, Israel has a huge disparity in terms of the number of rehab beds in the country’s central region versus the north and south. The greater Tel Aviv area has between two and three times more rehab spaces for patients than the rest of the country. The lack of beds is felt most acutely in the north and the greater Jerusalem area, which has a population of 1.2 million.


“Jerusalem is in absolute last place per capita,” said Knesset Health Committee head Yonatan Mashriki during a November 2 visit to Hadassah’s under-construction Gandel Rehabilitation Centre.


Completion of the aesthetically designed, state-of-the-art centre would go far in alleviating the shortage of rehabilitation beds in the capital, Israel’s largest city. As members of the Health Committee toured the building, Hadassah board chair Dalia Itzik and Hadassah director-general Prof. Yoram Weiss emphasised that completing the construction was just a matter of money.


“We have the people ready to do the work. We can complete at least the first two floors by the end of December or early January and start getting patients in here, if we can fundraise from private donors and get the money that the government has promised us,” Prof. Weiss said.


Since October 7, Hadassah’s existing rehabilitation facility has been expanded from 40 to 50 beds to accommodate patients injured in the war. The 30,000-square-meter Gandel Centre, located nearby, will ultimately accommodate 132 hospitalised patients on three floors. Some 140 more patients per day will come for outpatient treatment after they are discharged.


The new facility will have the newest and most advanced rehabilitation treatments and equipment for physical, occupational, respiratory, and speech therapies, as well as neurological and orthopaedic rehabilitation. The centre will house two large hydrotherapy pools, and the staff will include a variety of specialists trained to address the psychological recovery of soldiers and war victims.


Editor’s Notes:


17 December 2023 – read the full article here


Hadassah UK is raising funds to help complete the Gandel Rehabilitation Centre, currently in construction at Hadassah Mt. Scopus. With the high number of injured now being published it is glaringly apparent that there is an urgent need to provide comprehensive rehabilitation services to the people of Israel in their time of need. The new Hadassah rehab centre plans to start treating patients in the first week of January but urgently needs funds to be able to complete the building. Click here to find out how you can help heal the people of Israel by supporting this project.



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