Health­care in Is­rael heats up

The Jerusalem Post - - OBSERVATIONS - • By JOSHUA SHEMER (Reuters)

There’s a new player on the field of Is­rael’s health­care sys­tem. The first pub­lic hospi­tal to be built in Is­rael in more than 40 years will open its doors next month, bring­ing cut­ting edge tech­nol­ogy and in­no­va­tive in­te­grated care to the city of Ash­dod and the sur­round­ing re­gion.

Is­rael is one of the world’s health­i­est coun­tries, en­joy­ing a life ex­pectancy among the high­est in the world: 84 years for women and 81 years for men. Is­rael’s health­care is man­dated by law and pro­vided by four non­profit HMOs. Every citizen is ob­li­gated to join a health plan, but is free to choose and move from one to an­other.

Is­rael’s health­care sys­tem is an in­ter­na­tional leader in the im­ple­men­ta­tion of Health IT and was among the first in the world to im­ple­ment shared elec­tronic med­i­cal records.

For the past 20 years, the city of Ash­dod, lo­cated just 25 kilo­me­ters from the Gaza Strip, has led a bat­tle for qual­ity, im­me­di­ate med­i­cal care. Ash­dod is the fifth largest city in Is­rael and the only one of Is­rael’s 10 largest cities without a lo­cal hospi­tal. Ash­dod’s mega cam­paign led to a gov­ern­ment-is­sued ten­der in 2011 to build a new hospi­tal. The As­suta Med­i­cal Cen­ters Net­work won the ten­der.

The 2014 Op­er­a­tion Pro­tec­tive Edge in Gaza was fur­ther proof of the need, as 236 mis­siles rained down on close to half a mil­lion Ash­dod-re­gion res­i­dents.

As­suta Med­i­cal Cen­ters is the lead­ing pri­vate hospi­tal net­work in Is­rael, with seven fa­cil­i­ties across the coun­try. It is owned by the non-profit Mac­cabi Health­care Ser­vices, the sec­ond largest HMO in Is­rael. In just four years, As­suta built a seven-story, 300-bed ad­vanced, gen­eral pub­lic hospi­tal, with plans to grow to 700 beds.

Fea­tur­ing a unique bomb shel­ter de­sign, the hospi­tal is fully pre­pared for se­cu­rity crises, pro­tected from mis­sile at­tack and from bi­o­log­i­cal and chem­i­cal war­fare. This en­sures con­tin­u­ous op­er­a­tion dur­ing times of con­flict.

As­suta Ash­dod Pub­lic Hospi­tal is also Is­rael’s first green, en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly hospi­tal. It will be pa­per­less, with a dig­i­tal in­fra­struc­ture that en­sures real-time com­mu­ni­ca­tion among med­i­cal staff, pa­tients and their fam­i­lies.

Af­fil­i­ated with Ben-Gu­rion Univer­sity Med­i­cal School in Beer­sheba, As­suta Ash­dod will help train Is­rael’s next gen­er­a­tion of doc­tors. Most im­por­tant, As­suta Ash­dod will be the hub of a to­tally in­te­grated com­mu­nity-care sys­tem, pro­vid­ing pa­tient-cen­tered, co­or­di­nated care.

The In­te­grated Care Sys­tem is a new na­tional and in­ter­na­tional model that pro­vides a holis­tic ap­proach to health­care and sup­port needs. As­suta Ash­dod is called a “com­mu­nity with a hospi­tal,” as ser­vices are or­ga­nized and de­liv­ered based on the needs of the individual, their care­giver and fam­ily. The hospi­tal’s seam­less in­te­grated care will re­duce the un­nec­es­sary, and of­ten harm­ful, use of med­i­cal ser­vices and will work to top the charts of life-ex­pectancy rates world­wide.

As­suta Ash­dod will spur fur­ther growth in Ash­dod, as it pro­vides more than 1,200 new jobs. The hospi­tal is fill­ing new A DAM­AGED build­ing in Ash­dod. Op­er­a­tion Pro­tec­tive Edge in Gaza in 2014 fur­nished fur­ther proof of the need for a hospi­tal in the city, as 236 mis­siles rained down on close to half a mil­lion Ash­dod-re­gion res­i­dents. po­si­tions for some 250 physi­cians and 500 nurses in ad­di­tion to tech­ni­cal and sup­port staff. This is cer­tainly one of the most dra­matic Zion­ist projects in Is­rael to­day, as As­suta Ash­dod gears up for a record of home runs in qual­ity health­care. The writer is chair­man of the As­suta Med­i­cal Cen­ters Net­work.

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