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Formerly a shelter to protect patients from missile attacks, the retrofitted facility is now being used to care for victims suffering from Coronavirus

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Herzog Hospital's new Samson Pavilion where the underground COVID unit is located | Photo: Herzog Hospital

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Israeli know-how and intellectual creativity have solved problems yet again, and this time, it was finding a unique way to care for Coronavirus patients.

Israel’s oldest hospital, Herzog Hospital, has completely transformed an underground isolation facility, previously designed to protect patients from rocket fire and biological and chemical attacks, into a care centre. With the help of Israel’s Ministry of Health, Aug. 13, the 160-bed underground hospital welcomed their first COVID-19 patients.

“When we built our new pavilion, we secured an underground area of over three thousand square meters sheltered way underground—15 meters underground—with facilities to protect it both against missile attacks, and chemical biological warfare,” said Dr. Yehezkel Caine, CEO/Director General of Herzog Hospital.

“At the time, little did we expect we would be using it to protect ourselves from ourselves. None of our engineers envisioned this sort of circumstances. When you build to protect from biological warfare, you build the shelter with a pressure inside, so that even if there is a leak, air will only come out of the shelter, and not come in, therefore bugs won’t come in. When you’re talking about isolation, it’s exactly the reverse,” he said.

The changes required were for the pressure inside to be lower than outside, in order that the virus would not be able to escape from the enclosed area. He further explained that engineers needed to reverse the air conditioning system to change ventilation direction. 

“And that is not as simple as it sounds,” said Dr. Caine.

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Herzog Hospital is established as a geriatric, psychiatric, and respiratory care centre in Jerusalem. As a worldwide pioneer in Alzheimer’s research and in treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Herzog has earned outstanding national and international recognition. The COVID-19 underground isolation unit resides in the Samson Pavilion, presently under construction with completion expected by October 2020. 

“The challenge is acquiring vital life-sustaining equipment, such as ventilators, EKGs, resuscitation carts, capnographs, and defibrillators, allowing Herzog to provide critical-care, ventilator-dependent patients the best chance to conquer the coronavirus,” said Steve Schwartz, International Director Resource Development Herzog Hospital. “We are pulling some of the staff from our other chronic respiratory departments to now work in the COVID unit.”

Israel’s Ministry of Health made a special request of Herzog Hospital to accelerate the building of the Isolation Unit. “This is not only to deal with the upswing in COVID patients in Israel requiring respiratory care, but to plan and be prepared for any increase in COVID-19 patients in the winter flu season,” said Schwartz.

Dr. Yehezkel Caine, CEO/Director General Herzog Hospital; Dr. Shuki Levy, Director General of Israel’s Ministry of Health; Dr. Jacob Haviv, Medical Director Herzog Hospital | Photo: Herzog Hospital

Features of the underground COVID-19 unit include, an outdoor terrace, a large kitchen, and gathering space filled with tablets to encourage patients to make connections with loved ones.

“There are no windows because it’s underground, so we built a terrace for patients to feel the sun, see the sky and breathe fresh air,” said Dr. Jacob Haviv, Herzog Hospital Medical Director. “We created big spaces for a television room, a kitchen to eat together with a refrigerator, so families can deliver food for Shabbat.”

Established in 1894, by a group of young women who wanted to help other women suffering from post-partum depression, Herzog Hospital which was originally called Ezrath Nashim was located in the Old City of Jerusalem. Serving as a psychiatric hospital for some 75 years, the hospital eventually changed its name to Herzog Hospital in memory of its longtime president Sarah Herzog.

YouTube video of Underground COVID hospital

Features of the underground COVID-19 unit include, an outdoor terrace, a large kitchen, and gathering space filled with tablets to encourage patients to make connections with loved ones.

“There are no windows because it’s underground, so we built a terrace for patients to feel the sun, see the sky and breathe fresh air,” said Dr. Jacob Haviv, Herzog Hospital Medical Director. “We created big spaces for a television room, a kitchen to eat together with a refrigerator, so families can deliver food for Shabbat.”

Established in 1894, by a group of young women who wanted to help other women suffering from post-partum depression, Herzog Hospital which was originally called Ezrath Nashim was located in the Old City of Jerusalem. Serving as a psychiatric hospital for some 75 years, the hospital eventually changed its name to Herzog Hospital in memory of its longtime president Sarah Herzog.

Canadian journalist Susan Minuk is both humbled and heartened by everyday stories with the power to touch or inspire her readers’ lives. Susan’s work has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star and Canadian Jewish News.

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

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Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

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