In recognition of this milestone, we reflected on the Galilee Medical Center's (GMC) longstanding participation in P2G since it began to connect with Diaspora communities via the Partnership's Medical Task Force.

 

Twenty years ago the Jewish Agency for Israel initiated Partnership2Gether (P2G) (previously known as Partnership 2000) to connect Jewish communities in the Diaspora with communities in Israel through people to people relationships. Known as a ‘peoplehood platform’ it brings the global Jewish world together through collaboration in fields that unite them. This April the Jewish Agency will mark its 20th year with an event, P2G@20, for everyone involved in the initiative — from Jewish Agency and Federation professionals to community lay leaders and volunteers. The goals include coming together to examine past programs and to gain inspiration for the future.

In recognition of this milestone, we reflected on the Galilee Medical Center's (GMC) longstanding participation in P2G since it began to connect with Diaspora communities via the Partnership's Medical Task Force. GMC, the largest employer in the Western Galilee serves approximately 600,000 diverse residents in the cities, towns and villages of Israel's northern border. We are in the unique position of actively engaging in three P2G relationships: 1) Western Galilee and the Central Region which pairs 13 United States Jewish Federation communities and Budapest, Hungary with Israel’s Western Galilee; 2) Western Galilee and Dallas; and 3) Nahariya and Northern New Jersey. From the beginning of our involvement, with the Jewish Agency's support and guidance, we have strived to promote deep and mutually beneficial connections with our partners. Although the projects within the framework have changed over the years, the Medical Task Force’s overriding goal has remained the same — to provide a means for Israeli and Diaspora medical colleagues to forge a common bond by sharing their professional experience and expertise, thereby expanding their medical knowledge.

The Emergency Response Group (ERG) course, sponsored jointly by the GMC and the Jewish Agency, was an early successful program that defined P2G’s vision. The course, which began with a weekend of orientation and touring in Jerusalem, continued for five days at the GMC and provided Diaspora health care professionals with an introduction to preparation for emergency mass casualty events, utilizing the GMC’s emergency preparedness procedures and experience. Over twelve years more than 130 participants attended the 40-hour annual course consisting of lectures by GMC staff, outside military, homeland security and first responder experts; hands-on workshops; a mini mass-casualty drill; and time with colleagues in their respective departments as well as opportunities for home hospitality with members of the GMC staff. The visiting medical professionals gained knowledge that they brought back and utilized in their communities to varying degrees. Moreover, as a result of their participation in the course, many felt that the Western Galilee/Nahariya is in their hearts and is their home in Israel, and personal relationships between GMC and Diaspora colleagues developed.

The GMC and our partners’ strong commitment to P2G and our dedication to nurture close ties with each other along with the Jewish Agency's efforts, ensures that our Medical Task Force continues to create meaningful opportunities to connect medical professionals at the GMC with those in our partnership communities. Today we host medical students and physicians through our Medical Externship, MED2GETHER and Med:PEP Medical Professional Exchange Programs. Similarly, our physicians share their knowledge as well as learn from their overseas colleagues by visiting our partnership communities. For example, last year two GMC physicians visited communities in the Central Region to share their experiences treating severely wounded Syrian casualties as part of Israel and the GMC’s humanitarian efforts over the past three years. They were well received by multicultural audiences who were interested to hear about the life-saving care the GMC has provided to over 950 victims of Syrian violence, one-third of whom are women and children under the age of 18. Since many people continue to express interest in hearing this story, we plan to send two more physicians to visit different communities in the Central Region and to Northern New Jersey in 2016. 

Partnership2Gether has also positively impacted the promotion and international exposure of our Medical Center along with other significant regional developments including Bar Ilan University’s establishment of Israel’s fifth medical school in Safed and our becoming its main teaching hospital. Under these influences, international awareness and visits to the GMC from abroad have increased to an almost daily occurrence. During this time our Partnership friends have also been part of our development as we've advanced on our campaign to expand our Medical Center with new departments staffed by top level physicians and state-of-the-art equipment so that we can provide a full spectrum of medical procedures and treatments to answer most of the medical needs locally for all who live in the Galilee and the Golan.

Over the years there have been many examples of collaboration and support that developed through the close connections we've established with our partners. For example, following the Second Lebanon War, our partnership communities rallied on our behalf and donated the seed money for our Protected Emergency Room. Moreover, the Central Region initiated and funded the "Friendly Room," the only one of its kind in the area, for victims of sexual assault.  And thanks to the Nahariya- Northern New Jersey partnership, the GMC was the first hospital in Israel to introduce the practice of "bloodless medicine" which reduces the number of unnecessary transfusions to medical and surgical patients.

A recent project that displays the Partnership2Gether narrative is the "Tree of Life" mosaic which adorns the lobby of our Women's Health Wing. The brainstorm of Indianapolis, USA artist Joani Rothenberg and her Israeli cousin Yael Buxbaum, the "Tree of Life" is a public piece of art that is divided into three parts and each one was worked on by a variety of people from different communities and backgrounds. Many partners collaborated to create the mosaic including the Central Region Consortium communities, Indianapolis' Jewish community, St. Vincent's Hospital in Indianapolis and the Friends of the Galilee Medical Center Association which is involved in a variety of projects to foster healing and patient recuperation. One section was brought to the various Central Area communities for people to work on, a second section was created by patients and staff at St. Vincent's Hospital in Indianapolis and the third one was completed at the GMC by our staff, patients and residents from all over the Galilee.

Almost every Partnership delegation to our region visits us to tour our Medical Center, located on the frontline of the Israel-Lebanon border, and see the multicultural diversity and coexistence as reflected in our patients and staff. Moreover, some P2G leaders worked with us to create an American Friends of the Galilee Medical Center to support and assist our Israeli Friends of the GMC with raising funds for new and renovated buildings, medical equipment and other services. Certainly this is a concrete benefit to the GMC, but P2G has clearly generated intangible benefits to our Partnership friends, prompting their desire to extend themselves, be involved and share in our story.

What we've mentioned above are only some of the high points from the GMC's longtime participation in Partnerhsip2Gether. From our vantage point P2G works; it is a win-win program with mutual giving and receiving on a variety of levels in both Israel and the Diaspora. The Medical Task Force makes Israel personal for medical professionals through personal connections and enables both sides to learn and grow. Furthermore, P2G positively impacts the Jewish world with far reaching and overriding benefits such as raising awareness of Israel and strengthening Jewish identity. So as we look back, we are proud of our involvement and accomplishments with our P2G partners and we look forward to continuing to strengthen the bridge that connects us through this dynamic form of interaction.

 

Aya Kipershlak, an employee of the Galilee Medical Center since 1989, was a senior member of its Administrative Services, and from1994 to 2009 served as the Director General's Office Manager. In 2009 she became Director of its International Affairs Department and since then has shaped the face of the GMC's foreign outreach by introducing and managing its Medical Tourism. She was elected as Chair of the P2G's Mission & Marketing Committee Task Force in 2009 and served on it until 2013.

Sharon Blassberg Mann, an attorney, is a Liaison in the Department of International Affairs, Galilee Medical Center and has over 10 years of experience working and volunteering with nonprofits in Israel in development, community outreach and programming. She currently volunteers as an International Liaison at Kehillat Emet VeShalom Nahariya where she also serves on its Women of Reform Judaism Steering Committee.

 

 

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29 Feb 2016 / 20 Adar 5776 0