Sheba Orthopedic Specialists Propose Establishment of Haitian-Israeli Rehabilitation Center in Haiti
Two senior specialists in orthopedic rehabilitation from the Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer in Israel have just returned from a ten-day (Feb. 12-19) assessment mission to Haiti. The mission, sent at the personal request of Israeli President Shimon Peres, was tasked with evaluating the stricken country's long-term rehabilitation needs and with developing a plan for meeting them.
The team found that Haiti now has more than 4,000 new amputees and no indigenous capacity whatsoever to rehabilitate them. Haiti has no training centers for physiotherapist, occupational therapists and prosthetic/orthotic technicians, and no functioning medical rehabilitation facility. To remedy this, the assessment team is proposing the establishment of a joint Haitian-Israeli Rehabilitation Center in Haiti, based on rotating Israeli medical teams which will both treat patients and train local personnel, at an annual cost of approximately $1.5 million.
The assessment team's report has been submitted to President Peres, who has discussed the issue with former US President Bill Clinton – who is tasked with leading global rehabilitation efforts for Haiti.
Leading the Israeli assessment team was Dr. Tsaki (Itzhak) Siev-Ner, chief of orthopedic rehabilitation and chief orthopedic rehabilitation surgeon at the Sheba Medical Center (who is also vice president of the Israel Medical Association and chairman of the Israeli Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine Association), and Mr. David Abadi, Magen David Adom representative on the International Red Cross.
Other team members were Ms. Anat Kristal, chief physical therapy supervisor in Sheba's orthopedic rehabilitation department; Dr. Elhanan Bar-On, an orthopedic surgeon and a specialist in pediatric orthopedics from the Schneider Medical Center; and Mr. Yehuda Pilosof, a prosthetic and orthotic technician and director of the Gapaim rehabilitation institute. The JDC also supported the mission, with assistance from the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The team recommends establishing the proposed Haitian-Israeli Rehabilitation Center on the grounds of the Hospital Universite d'Etat d'Haiti (HUEH), which had a planned rehabilitation center with designated space and personnel prior to the earthquake. Sadly, the person who was to head that center perished in the earthquake. The site was found to be adequate and potentially operative within a few weeks for a cost of less than $100,000.
Sheba Medical Center CEO Prof. Zeev Rotstein commented that "Sheba has a long and proud tradition of delivering medical assistance beyond our national boundaries. Sheba doctors have provided international relief and medical training in Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Cambodia, China, Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Mauritania, Myanmar, Peru, Russia, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and more. These activities stem from the hospital’s commitment for the ailing and needy; from the State of Israel’s long-time tradition of contributing to humanitarian relief efforts abroad; and out of an abiding concern for healing and compassion that is ingrained in Jewish history and tradition."