Dear Friends & Supporters of Medicine in Israel,
As I begin the second year of my two-year tenure as APF’s President, I am very grateful for all the support that APF has received and thankful for all we have accomplished together in 2018. We have further enhanced our visibility and recognition — within Israel and here at home — as the premier organization in North America promoting medical care for all Israelis. Our strong support of medicine in Israel was marked by multiple achievements in 2018, including:
- We remain the only organization that collaborates with Israel’s Ministry of Health to maintain, update and grow an Emergency Volunteer Registry of physicians who sign up, should the need arise, to travel to Israel on short notice, providing back-up medical services for Israeli doctors who are called to the battlefront.
- We provided scholarships for Israeli physicians to come to academic medical centers in the U.S. and Canada to advance their clinical and research skills. Upon completion of training, they will return to Israel to spread this knowledge to hospitals large and small across Israel. We are confident that they will follow the tradition of our past scholarship recipients in eventually becoming the leaders of clinics, departments, and hospitals across the country.
- We provided scholarships for 28 Israeli nurses from 21 hospitals around Israel to attend a Trauma Mass Casualty Nursing Training Course at Rambam Hospital in Haifa.
- The APF Emergency & Disaster Preparedness Course, offered every November in Israel, attracted a record number of physicians and nurses from across North America and other countries.
- We organized and led a cohort of 25 participants on the Second APF’s Podiatry Scientific Mission to Israel, both exploring the land and learning of the successes and challenges of podiatric care in Israel.
- We hosted a Birthright trip for young medical and nursing students, serving to strengthen and combine their emerging identities as health care providers and supporters of Israel.
- We sponsored multiple Israeli physician speakers at community events in several cities across the U.S. In Detroit, we invited two Medical School Deans and a University President to describe their respective institutions’ connections to peer academic centers in Israel.
- APF leaders met with the President of the Israel Medical Association, physician leaders of the Home Front Command, and Hospital Presidents to establish an efficient conduit to facilitate U.S. physicians who would like to experience medical care for 2 weeks to several months in Israel. (More details will be forthcoming in a future Newsletter.)
Despite these major successes, I must admit to some concern that there is significantly more to do to meet the challenges of providing high- quality medical care across the breadth of Israel. I was in southern Israel on a late November night in which 300 rockets were fired toward Israel from Gaza over a 3-hour period. Although the Iron Dome stopped many of those rockets mid-flight, several got through, causing deaths and injuries to Israelis. As you can imagine, Emergency Rooms of local hospitals were flooded with victims. In addition to death and serious injury, an even greater number of patients sought ER care for the extreme anxiety of needing to run to shelters multiple times in the middle of a single night. The varied needs of Israeli health care present unique challenges, including responding to terrorism that can and does occur anywhere at any time; caring for a diverse population speaking multiple languages and from a wide range of cultures; providing primary, specialty, and subspecialty care to a population spread across large urban areas and remote villages; and on top of all that, being true to our heritage in reaching out a helping, healing hand even to individuals from countries with which we are at war.
The needs are great, and any delay in helping can be measured in health not restored and in lives lost. I urge you to become involved — to become a member at the highest level possible, to provide a generous donation, to sponsor an Israeli Fellow to come to the U.S. to learn and return, to sign up for the Emergency Volunteer Registry, to register for the Disaster Preparedness Course, and to urge a health care professional student you know to join us on a Birthright trip, The needs are great, the time is now, and the ability to impact the health of all who live in Israel is in our hands.
Jeffrey M. Devries, MD, MPH