In the course of human history, 2020 will stand out for many reasons. Not the least of which will be the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. There were also a number of outstanding achievements, including the way that humankind rose to this challenge by using science collegiately to find solutions that will ultimately save lives.

It has also been a year of great achievement for Hadassah Australia. Here are some examples:

HAMRC Active

Hadassah Australia Medical Research and Collaborations Foundation Limited (HAMRC) launched as a DGR-1 charity in late 2019. Its sole focus is the promotion of medical research at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem and medical research collaborations between Hadassah researchers and Australian research institutions. The inaugural HAMRC newsletter was distributed in November 2020.

With the by-line of ‘Saving lives sooner’, the primary goal of HAMRC is to improve patient outcomes by accelerating the pace of biomedical discovery and the translation of medical breakthroughs into novel therapeutics and diagnostics.

We launched the priority philanthropic investment project ‘Chronic Kidney Disease’ (CKD) research, combining Dr Alex Combes lab at Monash University with Dr Oded Volovelsky at Hadassah. The research aims to prevent premature babies from developing chronic kidney disease later in life by combining Australia’s advanced imaging techniques with Israel’s unique in vivo modelling.

Webinars

The need to socially-distance has brought with it many challenges. But through these there have been some surprisingly positive outcomes. Among them is the Webinar. Although the concept wasn’t invented during the pandemic, it certainly came into its own.

This year we presented four highly-informative and relevant virtual meetings. Here are some of the key learnings from our most recent. ‘At risk: Exploring the link between Prematurity and Chronic Kidney Disease’.

“Chronic disease exposure really starts in utero and we know that if people are born pre-term they have fewer filtering units in their kidneys and we need every filter we can get for the kidneys to do their work.”

Specialist nephrologist and Chair of Clinical Research at Royal Adelaide Hospital, Associate Professor Shilpanjali Jesudason, addressed our webinar on 9 December. She was highlighting the groundbreaking HAMRC-supported research collaboration into the link between prematurity and chronic kidney disease being undertaken by Hadassah Hospital’s Dr Oded Volovelsky and Monash University’s Dr Alex Combes.

Both Prof Jesudason and panellist Andrea Hendry, co-founder of Miracle Babies Foundation, a nephrology nurse and mother of two ‘premmie’ children, endorsed the innovative collaborative research as the only way forward to break the cycle of chronic intergenerational kidney disease.

“Having this research focus on pre-term birth is an absolutely critical element of trying to address that tsunami of chronic kidney disease that we’re seeing in the world at the moment,” said Prof Jesudason.

Ms Hendry spoke emotionally about the struggle parents go through knowing the medical issues associated with prematurity in later life. In recognition of that struggle, Prof Jesudason said: “What (this research) needs is investment and the will to do things differently… to give hope to the patients”.

We feel proud that our four webinars helped us maintain links with the community throughout the difficult COVID-19 lockdowns. Each webinar featured highly-regarded Israeli and Australian medical experts.

Catch up on some these fascinating discussions and explore our upcoming events.

Hadassah Ethiopian-Israeli Nursing Scholarship Program (Achotenu)

Thanks to the ground-breaking agreement between Hadassah Australia and the UIA, we are helping to build Israel’s nursing cohort to internationally-accepted levels by supporting a career path for Ethiopian-Israelis.

Hadassah Australia committed to adopt a ground-breaking program for young Ethiopian-Israelis who had been marginalised from their chosen profession. The program known as Achotenu was designed to create a novel pathway to a nursing career.  Its aim is to fund nursing scholarships for young Ethiopian-Israelis at the Henrietta Szold Hadassah-Hebrew University School of Nursing. Until the program started in 2016, many young Israelis from migrant communities were failing the government’s standardised higher education entrance exam that screens students, effectively determining whether they are offered a university place. 

For many young people, a place in Israel’s internationally-recognised healthcare system is a matter of pride as well as providing economic security.  To be a nurse is to be at the coalface of community health and to represent the very best values Israel offers. We are proud and delighted to support the Class of 2024 students.

Clowns in Covid

In an amazing first for Israel and globally, the Hadassah Medical Clowns were proud to be given permission to undertake their daily shifts within the corona wards.

They continued to meet the challenge of making their work impactful and relevant during the most difficult days. In the words of Hadassah Head Clown David ‘DuSH’ Barashi: “We believe that it is in this space where there is so much fear, that the medical clowns can make the biggest difference of all."

Rehabilitation Centre on Mt Scopus

What a difference a year makes! During 2020 the construction site for the new Jerusalem Rehabilitation Center at Hadassah Mt Scopus progressed considerably from deep holes in the ground to the actual foundations of a state-of-the-art facility.


Construction is well under way, with the bottom storeys and walls progressing rapidly.

Construction is moving quickly and within two years Jerusalem residents will have access to a unique centre for the city. The centre 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 important and timely service.

In the words of Dr Tamar Elram, Director Hadassah Mt Scopus: “The new Rehabilitation Center at Mount Scopus will help people regain hope and their physical capabilities… restoring their independence and dignity.”

Goshen

Ten years have passed since Goshen was established. We acknowledge the key people who have been on the journey with us since the very beginning and those who have played a critical role along the way:

Prof Frank Oberklaid, Basil Porter, Zahi Grossman, Rinat Cohen, Dr Manuel Katz and Prof Eitan Kerem. And not to be forgotten are the key institutions such as Taub, Yad Hanadiv and the Van Leer Foundation who have been instrumental in their support.

We are planning to interview some of these people about the state of early childhood in 2010 and the ground-breaking way in which Goshen has contributed to better outcomes 10 years hence.

With thanks to the wonderful donors who have continued to support and be part of the journey, along with the Goshen team - Dr Hava Gedassi, Dr Dafna Idan, Dr Maya Yaari, Dr Fuad Alsana, Yonit Levanon and many more.

Pictured above: (L-R) Dr Hava Gedassi, Dr Maya Yaari, Prof Frank Oberklaid

JCIC

Trauma and violence did not diminish during 2020 and indeed, throughout the ongoing COVID-19 crisis the team of dedicated Hadassah psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers from the Jerusalem Crisis Intervention Center (JCIC) have worked tirelessly to cope with the increased demands for their professional services.

Over 14 years since its inception under Dr Esti Galili-Weisstub, the JCIC, a division of Hadassah’s Department Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, has provided accessible public mental health services to young people. They can receive vital early screening, short-term intervention, tailored crisis intervention plans and appropriate therapies.

The need continues and the team continues to provide the help. Dr Galili-Weisstub visited Australia 18 months ago and her inspiring lecture was recorded.