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Friday, October 24, 2014

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Israel to get its first orthopedic hospital

Tags: Israel
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Edna Bar-Ratson is the director of resource development at Meir Medical Center.

Meir Medical Center is set to construct Israel’s first fully dedicated orthopedic hospital, and it’s looking to Canada for a little help.

The teaching hospital, located in Kfar Saba, just north of Tel Aviv, serves nearly one million people, Arabs and Jews, each year and is associated with the Sackler School of Medicine at Tel Aviv University.

Meir is known for its advances and excellence in the fields of cancer research, diabetes, geriatric care, pediatric care, head and neck surgery and orthopedic surgery.

However, it’s the latter medical field that the centre has decided to focus on. Though other specialty hospitals exist throughout Israel, it doesn’t yet have one dedicated to orthopedics.

Speaking with The CJN during a recent fundraising trip to Canada, Edna Bar-Ratson, director of resource development at Meir Medical Center, said, “We’re excited to have this new master plan [on orthopedics]. There is a growing need and… demand for this.”

She said Meir is poised to provide the “full spectrum” of orthopedic care since it is already renowned for its work in orthopedics, spinal surgery and sports medicine.

According to the centre, Israel’s population is expected to hit more than 9.5 million people by 2024, with an estimated 1.5 million elderly citizens.

The centre is currently roughly the size of Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre campus. It will expand once it completes construction of the planned 25,000-square-foot orthopedic building.

To do so, the centre needs to raise $60 million over the next three years to build the new pavilion. And Canadians are being asked to help contribute $10 million toward the cause.

Arie Raif, vice-chair and CEO of the Canadian Friends of Meir Medical Center, said his job is to get the Canadian Jewish and non-Jewish communities to buy into the centre’s vision.

The charitable foundation has raised more than $2 million for the centre since 2010. He now has a mandate from the centre’s board to come up with the first sixth of the funds from Canadians over the next three years.

The creation of a new orthopedics building, Raif said, will not only further Israel’s capacity to tend to an aging population – and to all others requiring orthopedic care – but will advance the potential of shared medical knowledge between Canadian and Israeli doctors and researchers.

Canadian hospitals and doctors are already engaged in numerous projects with Meir, including ongoing joint projects between researchers at the Hospital for Sick Children and the University of Western Ontario.

More initiatives with Canadian medical institutions are planned, Bar-Ratson said.

She added that the construction of the new building will have a domino effect on the rest of the Meir campus, as it will free up space currently used for orthopedics in other buildings, making room for more beds and operating rooms and for other purposes.

The building will be constructed to a new building code, under which the shell of all new infrastructures must be “bomb-resistant,” she said. And there will be whole floors that double as bomb shelters, so that patients need not be moved to the basement in case of rocket attacks.

Raif said the official launch of the orthopedic hospital’s fundraising campaign in Canada is set for January.

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