Israeli medical center for Gazans opens as ceasefire begins
By Rachel Neiman January 19, 2009
The complicated reality of Israel's never-ending state of war is that it tears down with one hand and builds up with the other. The hope being that, at the end of the day, positive efforts will outweigh negative ones.
And so, in the wake of a ceasefire that went into effect at 2am on Sunday morning, Israel's Magen David Adom (MDA), in cooperation with the Department of Health, opened a medical center at the Erez Crossing between Gaza and Israel to serve Gaza Strip citizens.
That same day, an opening ceremony for the center was held on the Israeli side of the Erez Crossing in the presence of Minister of Social Services Yitzchak Herzog, Minister of Health Yaacov Ben Izri, and Eli Bin CEO of Magen David Adom.
At the opening, Bin told reporters: "The logistics in establishing a facility like this is very complicated especially with such short notice." In fact, the government decision to open the center came only on Thursday, after which MDA was selected to implement and operate the project.
"We started building within 24 hours," says Dr. Zvi Feigenberg, in charge of MDA's medical section, sounding remarkably calm in the face of the impossible deadline. "We opened on Sunday and hope that by Monday we'll be operating at full capacity."
The main focus is to treat the wounded
The great unknown is who will be coming in for treatment, once the crossing opens. "We already resuscitated one man today, he collapsed at the gate, and aided a woman who was crossing into Israel for diabetes treatment. But the main focus of the center is to deal with the wounded," says Feigenberg.
"The center was set up to answer the needs of the residents of Gaza," Bin tells ISRAEL21c. "They're ordinary citizens, they aren't responsible for the conflict, and MDA as a humanitarian, non-political organization and a member of the International Red Cross (IRC) should provide an answer."
The new medical center has the capacity to handle 30 patients per hour and will be staffed by paramedics and doctors with a range of specialties: ear, nose and throat; emergency medicine; family medicine; gynecology; pediatrics; ophthalmology; orthopedics; surgery; trauma and more, as well as an intensive care ambulance and four basic life support (BLS) ambulances, in order to transport patients to and from hospitals in Israel.
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