What’s been on – past events at Hadassah

Be a Hadassah Hero – Our 2016 campaign

28 November to
4 December 2016

Every one of us could be a hero and make a positive change in the world, by becoming a ‘Hadassah Hero’ and hosting an event of your choice to raise funds for sick children in Israel and Australia.

Hadassah Hospital visit by college students

Mt Scopus College Ulpan participants visited Hadassah Hospital in November 2016, to undertake a workshop with head Dream Doctor, David ‘DuSH’ Barashi. The participants learnt distraction techniques to help sick children focus on something other than their illness, and then used these skills during several visits to Hadassah.
Many participants felt that this experience helped them to see and treat all people equally irrespective of background. Similarly, participants left the experience with a deep appreciation of the value of medical clowning in increasing doctors’ abilities to treat patients and in building bridges to peace.

Peace in Sight luncheon for Ophthalmologists

On Tuesday 22 November 2016, Hadassah Australia hosted a luncheon at the Melbourne Convention Exhibition Centre for ophthalmologists attending the RANZCO conference. The luncheon was called to raise awareness and funds for a new collaboration between Hadassah and St John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital called ‘Peace in Sight’.

This collaboration seeks to establish a genetic research unit focussed on hereditary eye disease at St John to serve the Palestinian communities.

Many prominent Australian and New Zealand ophthalmologists attended, with an address given by Professor Hugh Taylor AC. The video can be seen below.

Michael Weintraub’s visit – May 2016

The White Coat Warrior, Israel’s leading campaigner for kids with cancer.

School is a vital element in the treatment of children

I am a passionate believer in encouraging hospitalised children to maintain as normal a lifestyle as possible. This is one key to the process of wellness. After their family, the most important part of a child’s life is their school. Making up for lost school days is not only critical, but also a vital element of the psychosocial program.

Hadassah Hospital recognises this and has a highly regarded school run in conjunction with the Ministry of Education. Normality is the endgame for these children. But the sad reality is that each year around 25 children under my care will lose their lives.

Professor Michael Weintraub

Professor Michael Weintraub

Director, Pediatric Haematology–oncology, Hadassah Hospital, Jerusalem.

Prof Weintraub is a renowned Israeli pediatric haemato-oncologist. He’s a man dedicated to building bridges to better understanding between Israelis and Palestinians through health. As both clinician and mentor, he talked with us about the reality of co-existence in Jerusalem, a city at the epicentre of the challenges for peace in the Middle East.

For more information, please email australia@hadassah.org or call Hadassah Australia’s office on (03) 9272 5600.

This was a great opportunity. Michael Weintraub represents not only the best of Hadassah, but the best of Israel. Below are three stories about Michael, that appeared in the Australian media.

L to R: Uri Windt, Rabbi Zalman Kastel, Ron Finkel, Prof. Michael Weintraub, the Hon. Walt Secord, Shadow Minister for Health. They attended a lunch in Sydney, where Prof. Weintraub told the story below.

A STORY BY MICHAEL

Netta lives just outside Jerusalem. A few kilometres from her house is a world-class medical centre. Netta knows that if one of her sons had cancer there is an excellent chance he would be well cared for. Treatment is expensive, but when it comes to the life of your child money is irrelevant. All that matters is survival.

A few days ago, Netta’s son Daniel drove up winding Kalman Ya’akov Man Street, past planted pines, to the Hadassah Medical Center. In his vehicle was precious cargo and he was doing his duty. Daniel feels the same sense of duty putting on an Israeli military uniform as he does now driving a three-year-old Palestinian girl to Prof. Weintraub, the head of Hadassah’s Department of Pediatric Haematology, Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplantation, so she can be treated for cancer.

Daniel had picked Reema up from ‘The Tunnels”, the last checkpoint into Israel from the West Bank. Reema’s father had no choice but to put his daughter into the arms of strangers. All that matters is survival. Fadi doesn’t speak Hebrew, doesn’t have money for petrol, and would never have been able to find his way from the West Bank to Hadassah, even if he’d been allowed to travel, which as a Palestinian would be difficult.

The checkpoint separates two worlds divided on issues of politics, history, territory, and the future. The material differences between Daniel’s and Fadi’s worlds, separated by only 10 kilometres, are enormous. If Reema had been born in Jerusalem her chance of surviving a retinoblastoma diagnosis would be around 92%. Without the help of volunteers like Daniel and Prof. Weintraub, her chances of surviving eye cancer in the West Bank are virtually nil.

Prof. Michael Weintraub and his colleagues are heroes, plain and simple. But they do not seek publicity, nor do they want any. In fact Michael states emphatically, ”Making publicity out of this work could harm it.”

The comment captures the delicate balance required when communicating across the Green Line to do the right thing under conflicting and difficult circumstances.

Michael and a group of dedicated Israelis provide sophisticated cancer treatment to Palestinian children. Their patients are assisted by volunteers like Netta’s son, who participate in programs like ‘The Road to Recovery’, ferrying the sick from checkpoints to Hadassah and other hospitals throughout Israel at no cost. Michael’s clinic at Hadassah takes about a third of all Palestinian children diagnosed with cancer each year. But simply treating Palestinians on the Israeli side isn’t a long-term solution. Prof. Weintraub says, ”That simply perpetuates the problem”.

Michael and the founders of Project Rozana are holistic thinkers and the parallel aim has been from the outset to help Palestinians build their own medical and palliative care capacities so they are able to treat patients and to provide care in or closer to their homes. They partnered some years ago with a hospital in East Jerusalem, where their Palestinian colleagues are now able to provide sophisticated oncological diagnosis and care. Michael is also behind a new initiative, which will train Palestinian palliative care providers to support Palestinian patients and families in their own homes. Project Rozana will assist in funding this initiative.

When asked whether the Israeli government takes issue with its citizens pursuing such partnerships with Palestinians, Prof. Weintraub said: ”We are not political. Nobody interferes in what we do.”

When it comes to cancer and other life-threatening illnesses affecting children, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict evaporates. “We have a common enemy, it’s the disease.”

Project Rozana shows that Israelis and Palestinians can work together as equals through mutual respect. It’s an important lesson for the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority; all people of goodwill can influence the way things need to be done.

More important than anything else, Project Rozana shows that, despite political deadlocks and obstacles, people on both sides are laying foundations and building pathways to peace. It’s hard. It’s slow. Few things worth having are ever easy. But individuals who want peace need to work for it in whatever ways they can, independently of their leaders if necessary.

Hadassah, Prof. Weintraub, Project Rozana, and Netta’s son Daniel show that things can change, despite the rhetoric, the politics, the fear mongering and the ideologies.

Speaking after Prof Weintraub’s visit to Sydney, Uri Windt, a Panel member of Plus61J and a director of the Shalom Institute, said:

Reality gets changed on the ground. Grassroots partnerships between Israelis and Palestinians are necessary to prepare the way for peace.

To learn more and support the efforts of Prof. Michael Weintraub and Project Rozana, follow this link: http://www.projectrozana.org/

This article first appeared on www.plus61j.net.au and is reprinted with permission.

What a terrific fellow is Professor Michael Weintraub.

I have been lucky: over the years I have met more than a footy team of remarkable Israelis – low key, humble, sincere, productive, inventive, genuine, and, importantly, empathetic  – who are making differences to the lives of others. And never just Israelis.

I am, quite literally, in awe of the manner in which Professor Weintraub works away at the real issues – the health of the region’s children – while somehow putting the perpetually insoluble complexities of the Middle East’s situation, that must close in on him and his family every day, to one side.

That is a saintly act. I am not sure that in the same position, with my children’s safety perhaps to be decided by the fathers of the kids I was keeping alive, that I would be so honourable. Certainly, I would never be as brave.

The two men I asked to join us today – Quadrant’s Roger Franklin and Barney Zwartz, former Fairfax religious editor, now media man for (Australian Anglican Primate Archbishop) Philip Freier, but still contributing religious affairs stories to The Age – were deeply impressed with Professor Weintraub and his work at Hadassah. For gnarled old journos like them to be so impressed by the Professor speaks volumes.

Thanks for inviting me today and introducing me to the Professor. I really enjoyed it. And so did Roger and Barney.

Alan Howe – former Managing Editor of Australia’s largest circulation newspaper, The Melbourne Sunday Herald-Sun.

Thank you for including me in what was a very interesting lunch (content and people).

Such wonderful work.

Michael is driving peace by stealth.

Louise Baxter – CEO of The Starlight Children’s Foundation

MICHAEL’S BACKGROUND

JERUSALEM — In any part of the world, hearing that your child has cancer is a frightening scenario. When your access to life-saving treatment is limited or non-existent, it can be downright terrifying.

This is the reality for some Palestinians living in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Part of the reason is the lack of trained specialists working at local hospitals and, in the case of Gaza, restrictions on imports of some medications and technologies that could be commandeered for purposes other than medicine.

In the realm of paediatric cancer care, the situation in the Palestinian Territories is especially dire. There’s only one paediatric cancer clinic in Gaza and one in the West Bank. Those clinics are hard-pressed to handle the 230 new paediatric cancer cases that are recorded each year in the Territories.

When the Palestinian Authority’s nationalised health care system decides that a child’s needs can’t be addressed locally, it refers them abroad for treatment, usually to Israel, Europe, Egypt, or Jordan.

It’s often more cost-effective for the Palestinian Authority to send them to Israel.

“If these kids get sent to Europe for example, it would cost twice as much,” Professor Michael Weintraub, the head of Hadassah Medical Center’s Department of Pediatric HAematology, Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplantation, told Plus61J in a recent interview in his office.

Prof Weintraub leads a team of over 60 doctors, nurses, psychologists, social workers and others at Hadassah’s Ein Kerem campus, located in the hills outside Jerusalem. That team treats children with cancer, including about 50 each year who come from the Palestinian Territories. More Palestinian paediatric cancer cases are referred to Hadassah than to any other hospital in Israel. Hadassah was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. It remains the only hospital in the Middle East to be recognised by the Nobel committee for its commitment to cooperation and co-existence as reflected by the ethnic and religious diversity of its medical staff and patients.

Sitting in his office at Hadassah’s Mother and Child Pavilion, which is strewn with stuffed animals, toys, stethoscopes and stacks of papers, Prof. Weintraub has the weathered look of someone who faces death on a regular basis.

He explains that his department treats Palestinian children with many different kinds of cancer – whatever the Palestinian Authority’s health system is not equipped to do.

“Almost all kids with brain tumours are referred here from Palestine, and most of the kids who have sarcomas and bone tumours, and also all those kids who need bone marrow transplantation are referred here, for the most part,” says Prof. Weintraub, who visited Sydney and Melbourne from May 13-23 to speak about Hadassah’s projects that are helping underprivileged Palestinians. He expects to meet a wide-ranging audience, among them business leaders, medical professionals, psychologists and others involved in palliative care and bereavement counselling.

His visit is being sponsored by Project Rozana, a multi-faith health initiative that was created by Hadassah Australia in 2013. Its purpose is to raise funds to provide transport for Palestinian children from the checkpoints to hospitals in Israel, to upskill Palestinian medical professionals who will return to build the health capacity of their communities, and to cover the cost of treatment of critically-ill Palestinian children at Hadassah once the Palestinian Authority’s funding basket has been exhausted. Project Rozana and Plus61J jointly hosted one of the events during Prof. Weintraub’s Australian visit.

The Palestinian Authority made Hadassah its preferred provider for cancer care for children. “Relationships on an administrative level [with the PA]are very good,” Prof. Weintraub says.

But even Hadassah, one of the best hospitals in the Middle East, can’t always save kids with severe cancers. Typically, in such a situation, the patient is sent home so he or she can spend last days in a familiar environment among loved ones. Medical equipment is transferred to the home so that care can still be provided.

Because of the complicated political and security situation, Prof. Weintraub and Hadassah Hospital are creating a system to train Palestinian health professionals to provide end-of-life care at home for Palestinian kids with cancer.

Hadassah is currently recruiting Palestinian nurses, doctors and social workers to participate in this unique programme. Once they’ve assembled the team, Hadassah will bring them to Israel for a few days of focus training on how to provide palliative care.

Prof. Weintraub says:

For example, if a child who is sent home to Hebron needs oxygen and morphine, there will be a dedicated Palestinian health professional who will be the outreach professional for that family. That ‘outreach professional’ would be a part of the Hadassah staff, but would travel two or three times a week to provide both medical and psychological care to the sick child and his or her family in the West Bank.

Hadassah also trains Palestinian physicians to identify and diagnose genetic immune deficiencies in children early enough so those children can get a bone marrow transplant, which can save their lives. “If you transplant early enough, before the child is six months old, the success rate is over 90 percent,” Prof.Weintraub says.

To teach Palestinian health professionals how to identify immune deficiencies in infants, Hadassah held a one-day seminar in March at the Jerusalem YMCA.

We’re hoping this will increase awareness and improve cure rates, because infections that result from these deficiencies cause death in the majority of infants, if they’re not transplanted.

Since its founding at the turn of last century, Hadassah has embraced everyone in need of health care, irrespective of their religion, gender or nationality.

It’s as simple as this. Any kid who comes here is like any other kid,And we have to help them get better. No matter who you are, we train and we treat you to the best of our ability.

This article first appeared on www.plus61j.net.au and is reprinted with permission.

The Mother and Child Pavilion at Hadassah Medical Center’s Ein Kerem campus, where Weintraub’s team works.

Hadassah Medical Center.

“In most parts of the world, including Australia, the closest Third World country is thousands of miles away. From Hadassah it is exactly five miles (8km) away in the West Bank.”

 

Children and illness are a fact of life. In Israel and Australia, the standard and availability of medical care are among the best in the world. This didn’t occur by chance, but is the result of policies that are historic and consistent with the nature of the societies in which we live.

Our Achilles heel is the Indigenous community, particularly those who live remotely. The commitment to bridge the gap is absolute and despite some significant failures, notably the continuing poor mental health of some indigenous children and their limited access to medical services, the gap is narrowing.

In Israel and the surrounding territories, the issue is far more complicated. Factors include fewer Arabic-speaking medical and nursing staff per head of population compared to their Hebrew-speaking counterparts, a range of cultural issues including the rights of Palestinian women and children, the lower standard of health care in the territories, and restrictive access to Israeli hospitals because of security measures at border crossings.

As difficult as these issues are, they are not insurmountable partly because of people like Professor Michael Weintraub, the head of Hadassah’s Department of Pediatric Haematology, Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplantation.

Hadassah on the front line

His principles and work ethic are true of many in Israel, but Hadassah is literally the front line in terms of Palestinian engagement. Geography aside, it is also the spiritual home of that engagement as a result of the ground-breaking work of its founder, Henrietta Szold, more than a century ago. Professor Weintraub heads a team of 65 physicians, nurses, psychologists, social workers and administrators.

It will be an opportunity for him to speak with the community about the treatment in Israel of children with cancer and related illnesses and to gain further insights into the work being undertaken in Australia.

There are three themes that preoccupy him:

  • The survival rate in Israel of children with cancer. In Israel, as with other First World countries, the success rate is 80 percent. That means 20 percent of children will die.
  • The importance of training Palestinian health workers so that their community will eventually achieve similar outcomes to Israel. He is also cognizant of the number of children who live in developing countries where there is no pediatric oncology, such as the Palestinian territories.
  • How we cope with bereavement, and why supporting families beyond the immediate aftermath of the child’s death is so important.

Professor Weintraub says:

Across the Western world, the cure rate for children with cancer diseases is about 80 percent. The bottom line is we cure most children, but the process is very hard. There is a lot of intensive therapy, pain, being away from home, losing your hair, all of which is difficult for the child and the family.

Professor Weintraub is also focused on another troubling statistic, 80 percent of the world’s children live in developing countries where there are no pediatric oncology services.

His department is approached almost every day by Palestinian families with children who need help. The hospital is ready to accept children from the West Bank and Gaza, but offering treatment is made difficult by political, financial and security concerns.

Unfortunately the health infrastructure in the West Bank and Gaza is limited and relatively unsophisticated by Western standards, so a major part of what we do is to navigate the issues to provide a cure for these children.

Hadassah is the main referral centre in Israel for children with cancer and those that need a bone marrow transplant. Professor Weintraub says his Department treats up to 50 children from the Palestinian territories each year with a variety of cancer-related diseases.

He would like to do more for these children, but the cost of treatment often exceeds what the Palestinian Authority can afford. Thanks to Project Rozana, a multi-faith initiative created by Hadassah Australia, top-up funds are available to support critically-ill Palestinian children in hospital and to up-skill Palestinian doctors, nurses and therapists at Hadassah before they return to their own communities.

School is a vital element in the treatment of children

Professor Weintraub is a passionate believer in encouraging hospitalised children to maintain as normal a lifestyle as possible. He says this is one key to the process of wellness.

After their family, the most important part of a child’s life is their school. Making up for lost school days is critical, but it is also a vital element of the psychosocial program.

Hadassah recognises this and has a highly regarded school on its campus which is run in conjunction with the Ministry of Education.

Normality is the endgame for children and families, but the reality is that each year around 25 children under his care will lose their lives. A large part of his department’s work centres around palliative care.

Palliative care is an integral part of most big medical centres in Israel. We come to know the families very well, but the day that a child dies we can no longer be of help as paediatric oncologists. Bereaved families need help for a long time.

Because of the many conflicts that Israel has been involved in, it has one of the worlds’ most advanced systems for supporting the bereaved families of soldiers. Unfortunately, no such system of support exists for parents and extended family who have lost a child, even if it was the result of a conflict situation.

A tireless campaigner

Three years ago we started a project to provide a social worker for the bereaved family for the first year. We are also lobbying government to change legislation so that parents can receive financial support.

It’s hard to see Michael Weintraub as anything other than a tireless campaigner for the kids, his medical degree notwithstanding. Staff, patients and their family are in awe of him, both as an outstanding clinician and as a mentsch, a person of integrity and honour.

I don’t see myself as a visionary creating peace in the Middle East. What we do in our own little corner is to treat the children. A by-product of our work is that Israelis and Palestinians meet each other on a very human level. They have a common enemy – the disease – and together we fight to save the lives of our children.

The text here was transcribed from media coverage originally by…
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