August 9, 2007
By JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH
Discount Investment Corp. of the IDB Group and Diaspora donors via the Jewish Agency have donated NIS 50 million for a new protected wing to be built at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa and for additional fortification at Safed's Ziv Hospital and Nahariya's Western Galilee Hospital.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held at Rambam on Thursday, with IDB CEO Ami Erel, hospital director-general Prof. Rafael Beyar and Jewish Agency Chairman Ze'ev Bielski present.
The Jewish Agency raised the donation, which IDB later joined in, through the emergency campaign of the United Jewish Communities after the Second Lebanon War broke out.
Bielski said that "this is an unprecedented gift that will give real help in [both] times of quiet and emergencies in the region."
He recalled his visits to the North during the Second Lebanon War a year ago: "It was like watching a movie, seeing how the hospitals functioned while missiles fell around them."
IDB chairman Nochi Dankner said it was very important for his business and the Jewish Agency to join in helping hospitals in the North."
While the directors of the three northern hospitals thanked the donors, they did not hesitate to criticize the government for failing to stand by them and help pay for the necessary fortification.
"I was told during the war," recalled Ziv director-general Dr. Oscar Embon, "that cabinet members were not coming to the hospital because the helipad was located in a dangerous place and was liable to be hit by rockets. Now the government says the hospitals don't need protection against rockets ... ."
The money will be used to expand emergency medicine and trauma facilities in Rambam, doubling the available space and making it possible to treat wounded under fire; to expand and build the Nahariya hospital's emergency room and set up two new maternity departments, the first step in a new wing for women's health; and to purchase emergency equipment for Ziv and help renovate its emergency room and operating theaters.
Dankner announced as soon as the war was over that the group and subsidiaries would donate at least NIS 100 million during the coming year to help residents of the North and those at risk in the South. These funds have been set aside for educational, health, social welfare, culture and sports projects.