Israel Hospital: one of the most technologically advanced in the world

Hadassah's centennial event will reach new heights with the dedication of the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower.

Marcie Natan with mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat

Photo: courtesy of Hadassah Women's Zionist Organization

One of the most important events of the Hadassah Centennial celebrations in Jerusalem will be the dedication of the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower in the Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital campus.

The Tower is Hadassah’s most ambitious project in Israel to date, at a cost of $363 million.

When fully completed in 2013, it will be not only one of the most technologically advanced hospitals in the world but also one of the most comfortable for patients.

The story of the TOWER began in 2005, when the women of Hadassah completed the Swartz Center for Emergency Medicine. It was becoming clear that the Hadassah Ein Kerem round building, completed in 1960, was outdated. It was crowded, with five, and sometimes more patients to a room, with beds in the corridors. It was difficult to adapt the building to the exigencies of advanced medical technologies, especially in robotic medicine.

Consequently, the Hadassah leadership in the US decided it was time to build a new hospital. By 2005 the plans were ready, and the actual construction work got underway in 2007. The Tower is a carefully conceived, modern energy-efficient inpatient facility that will integrate Hadassah’s dedication to healing with science’s most sophisticated developing medical technologies.

The project was a tremendous financial commitment for Hadassah, but there were no second thoughts. Hadassah was fortunate that Judy and Sidney Swartz, major donors to Hadassah themselves, agreed to become campaign managers for the project. Their drive, dedication and wide range of contacts soon brought results.

They received a very large donation of $75 million from Bill and Karen Davidson of Detroit. The generous donation was the financial cornerstone of the project, and the new building is named after Bill Davidson’s mother, Sarah Wetsman Davidson, who hosted Henrietta Szold in Detroit when she visited in 1916 and who founded the Detroit Chapter of Hadassah. Later, the family donated a further $12.5 million toward the completion of the project.

The Swartz's with the help of partners from all over the United States and in countries around the world, received additional donations, large and small.

Hadassah relies both on major donors and grassroots support from its 330,000 American members, male associates and Hadassah-International supporters.

“Our mothers and grandmothers helped build the State of Israel and started Hadassah,” says Judy Swartz. “Now it is our generation's, our children’s and grandchildren’s, responsibility to accomplish the dream that is the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Tower. We are confident that when, on October 16TH, we dedicate our glorious accomplishment, we will all be overwhelmed with pride. For nearly 100 years Hadassah has set the standard for health care in the Middle East. Today, the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Tower is the largest building project in Israel. Tomorrow it will touch countless lives with the precious gifts of health and hope.”

The Tower is indeed large, with a floor area of 90,000 square meters, or approximately one million square feet. It has 19 floors – five below ground and 14 above.

It will contain 530 fully equipped beds in spacious rooms designed to accommodate one or two patients, each room with its own panoramic view of the Judean Hills. Two-thirds of the rooms will have two beds, while the remaining one-third will have one. There will be an additional 60 intensive care beds, with four beds to a room and round-the-clock supervision.

The Tower is designed with the comfort and well-being of the patients as a main concern. There will be no beds in the corridors, which were built narrow to avoid this temptation. (narrowly built on purpose.) The entrance to the Tower looks more like a five-star hotel than a hospital. And in many ways, the hospital rooms resemble hotel rooms. They have large digital TV screens, with cable broadcasts and Internet access. Patients can order their meals through this Internet connection. In every room, each patient has a safe in which to store valuables. In addition, all the rooms (will) have scenic views of the surrounding Judean Hills.

The building features what the designers call “healing gardens.” These are three internal winter gardens, one of which will be visible from any part of the building. The rooms and the gardens provide a very comfortable and pleasant atmosphere for patients and their families.

While the new Tower was designed with the ultimate comfort of the patient in mind, it was also designed as a modern technologically advanced medical institution adapted to the security situation in Jerusalem. It will have 20 advanced operating rooms situated in a secure and protected location four floors below ground.

The Tower will also have facilities in innovative areas in which Hadassah hospital staff have already made significant breakthroughs, such as minimally invasive surgery, telemedicine, computer-assisted procedures and medical robotics.