Showing appreciation to recovering IDF soldiers. Photo by Avi Hayun.
The cutting-edge Gandel Rehabilitation Center at Hadassah Mount Scopus opened its doors in mid-January 2024, offering healing for wounded soldiers. This innovative facility represents a significant advance in rehabilitative care, blending compassion with the highest levels of medical expertise.
Dr. Elior Moreh, who heads the department for wounded soldiers, emphasises the importance of tranquillity in the healing process, and, although she was delighted with the show of public support for the patients in the first days of opening, visits are now being thoughtfully managed, ensuring that these heroes have the quiet necessary for recovery.
Yoni, (not the soldier’s real name) a 23-year old officer and paratrooper recovering from bullet wounds in his stomach, neck, legs and head said he had been very pleased and excited to receive a visit from his soldiers in the early days of his hospitalisation. Now he’s focusing on his physical therapy at Gandel and is determined to walk again.
“That same determination to come back to full capacity is common among the soldiers in residence as well as those already coming in for day treatments”, says Moreh.
The critical need for greater access to rehabilitation in Israel became apparent after 7 October. Until then many families from the Jerusalem region had to travel to Tel Aviv or Raanana to visit their injured soldiers, as the old Hadassah Mount Scopus facility had only 38 in-patient beds. Upon completion, the new Gandel Rehabilitation Center will accommodate 140 in-patient beds.
The Gandel Rehabilitation Center stands as a testament to Hadassah's enduring commitment to Israel's well-being, a commitment spanning over a century. The centre’s offerings include a broad spectrum of rehabilitative services such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and specialised treatments for PTSD, all within an environment designed to foster both physical and emotional recovery.
As the centre evolves, it will serve thousands annually, not just soldiers, but civilians recovering from accidents, surgeries, and various traumas.
The centre’s ethos encourages personal responsibility in the journey towards reclaiming one's life, with the support of an exceptional medical and therapeutic team.
Stories of determination and courage unfold daily. Eli, a young yeshivah student and soldier, speaks to the power of shared experience in overcoming adversity. Eli was severely burned with lung damage six weeks ago when a missile hit his tank. “It’s been very meaningful that we are about the same age and in the same situation, all working together to get back from this hard time,” he says.
Along with standard rehab services—physical and occupational therapy, physiotherapy, and respiratory and orthopaedic rehabilitation—the new centre features a therapeutic swimming pool, a post-traumatic stress disorder centre and a computer that detects problems not always apparent in physical exams, as well as a team structure to tailor each soldier’s treatment to their unique condition.
Less visible is the emphasis on psychological healing, adds Moreh, with regular sessions with psychotherapists built into the schedule.
Family involvement plays a pivotal role in the recovery process, as evidenced by Sigalit Cohen-Sasson, whose son Timor's bravery and optimism illuminate the path to healing. The centre’s comprehensive approach, which includes support programs for families, underscores the collective effort required in the face of such challenges. Sigalit is participating in a family support program. “It’s a relief to be able to tell our story and how my son is doing to people who really understand what we are going through,” says Cohen-Sasson, who lives in Sderot.
Prof. Yoram Weiss, director general of Hadassah's HMO, emphasises that the centre’s mission is to aid those who have sacrificed so much in their return to health. It’s soldiers like Eli and Yoni who Dr. Yoram Weiss was thinking of when he said, “The first patients—heroes and heroines to whom we owe a huge debt of gratitude—can now begin their journey back to full health with the help of a specially designed department with advanced rehabilitation systems built and installed especially for them.” When finished, he added, the Gandel Rehabilitation Center will offer rehabilitation treatments for the entire population, including accident victims and those recovering from surgery, head injuries and more.”
Adapted from an article by Deborah Fineblum in JNS