US Ambassador Daniel Shapiro, and his wife Julie Fisher, Visit the Sheba Medical Center

Today, March 22, 2012, US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro, and his wife Mrs. Julie Fisher, visited the Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer to learn about new advances in clinical treatment and medical research, and about Sheba's national medical leadership.

Sheba CEO Prof. Zeev Rotstein, who hosted the visit, also introduced Mr. Shapiro and Mrs. Fisher to the many Sheba cooperative partnerships with American hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, scientific funds and bio-technology firms. This includes a formal sister hospital relationship in cancer treatment and research with MD Anderson Cancer Center of Texas, a formal collaborative partnership in cardiac treatment and research with the Mayo Clinic of Minnesota, and consultative partnerships in medical education through simulation with Case Western University, New York Presbyterian, and much more.

Ambassador Shapiro and Mrs. Fisher visited MSR: The Israel National Center for Medical Simulation, the Sheba Cancer Center, and the Edmond and Lily Safra Children's Hospital.

In the pediatric hemato-oncology and the pediatric congenital heart surgery intensive care departments, the Ambassador and Mrs. Fisher met with children undergoing treatment and their parents, including Israeli and Palestinian families, and families from Africa and Eastern Europe.

Ambassador Shapiro said that he was amazed by the size and scope of the Sheba Medical Center ("This campus is a megalopolis!"), and by its compassionate approach to treatment of patients and their families. "This is a hospital with a soul," he told Prof. Rotstein. He said that he was "gratified and very excited to learn of the many intricate and deep medical partnerships between Sheba doctors and scientists and their American counterparts."

The ambassador also viewed emergency preparedness facilities (such as underground reinforced surgical facilities, and biological/chemical cleaning facilities), which Prof. Rotstein said were part of the hospital's preparations for conflict with Iran. Ambassador Shapiro responded that he hoped there would be no such conflict and no attacks on Israel. "I hope so too," responded Prof. Rotstein, "but nevertheless, we have to be ready."

Mrs. Julie Fisher, the ambassador's wife, took particular interest in the breast cancer unit in the Sheba Cancer Center. Mrs. Fisher is very involved with the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Breast Cancer Foundation, which funds significant breast cancer research at Sheba.

At the Israel Center for Medical Simulation, Ambassador Shapiro tried his hand at virtual gall bladder surgery, using an Israeli computerized simulator. He found that his surgical skills required an upgrade, as the virtual patient began to bleed profusely….!

Ambassador Shapiro also learned from Prof. Rotstein about the American origins of the Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer. The hospital was actually founded by the US Army medical corps in 1942, which feared a Nazi invasion through North Africa. The facility was later turned over to the British army, and then to the Haganah. Some of the original American army medical barracks are still in use on the hospital campus today.

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