Two items in this edition of the Hadassah Newsletter brought home to me, once again, why Hadassah in Jerusalem is more than a hospital.

The story about the Hadassah Technology Accelerator and the article about the new Rehabilitation Center at the hospital’s Mount Scopus campus exemplify, yet again, the key role Hadassah plays – not only in Jerusalem but in Israel.

In 1912, the visionary American Zionist leader Henrietta Szold landed in Israel. Her mission was to assess what could be done to improve conditions for the residents of Ottoman Palestine. Returning to her home in New York, Henrietta established the Hadassah Women’s Zionist Organisation of America (HWZOA). Its task was to deliver better health outcomes for the people in the region starting with the health of women and children, which were at significant risk.

By 1948, Hadassah had established a network of hospitals and clinics throughout then mandated British Palestine. Shortly after the establishment of the State of Israel on 14 May, 1948, HWZOA handed over the ’keys’ of all their clinics and hospitals (bar the Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem) to the new government. Was there ever a more powerful statement of commitment to the community than this single gesture? I doubt it.

Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus in Jerusalem between 1948 and 1952

Fast forward more than seventy years and Hadassah’s impact in the community, local and national, continues to be felt on many fronts.

Nothing could demonstrate this more than the decision of Hadassah to address a pressing demand for a world-class rehabilitation centre in Jerusalem; a city of 820,000 residents with more than its fair share of patients in need of critical and acute rehabilitation care – wounded soldiers, terror victims, stroke patients, motor vehicle accident victims and geriatric patients recovering from major injury following falls.

As our article notes, within three years Jerusalem residents will have access to a state of the art rehabilitation facility at Mount Scopus. This first of its kind in the city is a joint initiative of Hadassah and the Government of Israel and we are proud to be an active partner in the fundraising for this unique facility.

But it doesn’t end there.

From its earliest days, Hadassah committed itself to best practice in patient care. Doctors and staff were encouraged to actively pursue better treatment outcomes. Research and innovation were encouraged and as a result, Hadassah is blessed with a large cohort of PhDs among its medical staff whose research is world-renowned. A second article in this newsletter highlights the establishment of a bio-tech ‘accelerator’ in the heart of Hadassah’s Ein Kerem campus.

This world’s first hospital-based start-up accelerator operated in partnership with IBM is a six-month program that aims to help start-ups develop technologies for the global medical market. It is easy to understand why Hadassah was such a perfect fit for this initiative, given that more than 50% of all hospital-based research in Israel is conducted here.

Over more than a century, Hadassah Hospital has been a leader and an innovator, in the most difficult of times and in times of relative calm. Underpinning it all is a belief in the rights of people to access the best health care available, without regard to their religion, politics, gender or any other marker of difference. That has been and will continue to be, Hadassah’s promise to the world.