It’s no secret that Hadassah Hospital represents what an ideal society in Israel can look like.  This is not a contemporary nod to political or social voices, but a longstanding commitment that dates back more than 100 years.

Inside Hadassah, everyone coexists without regard to religion, nationality, politics, gender or sexual orientation.  It’s fair to say that every major hospital in Israel follows the Hadassah model.

Clearly, people who are focused on the best in healthcare as espoused by Hadassah, rarely look for or see the worst in others.  Hadassah is a safe place that has nurtured medical staff from across intrasocietal communities.  In Australia, we are increasingly seeing these people taking part in advanced training programs fostered by Hadassah Australia.

One such person is Hadassah-trained medico, Rani Haj Yahya, who arrived in Australia in January 2020 BC.  He will return to Israel in 2022 AD, after completing advanced training in the Department of Maternal Fetal Medicine at the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne.

No, it’s not a tenure of 4,000 plus years, but the reality that life in Israel (Before Corona) will be starkly different to the life he can expect to find when he returns, hopefully (After the Disease) has been eradicated or, at the very least, tamed.  

In many respects, coming to Australia for sub-specialist training rather than the US or Canada with his wife, Amnah and their children, Khalil and Juman, was a fortunate decision given the dramatic rise in COVID-19 infections across North America.  

Australia is far from immune from the ravages of the coronavirus, but the environment here is more conducive to study than in a community where the focus is on survival.  Hospitals across the US and Canada have been commandeered and medical staff almost dragooned in the quest to care for those who are critically ill from COVID-19.  It follows that a Fellowship, like the one that brought Dr Haj Yahya to Australia, will play second fiddle to the life and death struggle that is the hallmark of the coronavirus.

Dr Haj Yahya is a Hebrew University and Hadassah Hospital alumnus.  As an Arab-Israeli, he and Amnah (a pharmacist) are part of a community within Israeli society that is punching well above its weight in terms of their impact in medicine and healthcare.  These are not marginalised people, but leaders in thought and action particularly in healthcare.  His visit follows a similar route to the one travelled by previous Hadassah Fellows training with Australian tertiary hospitals.

These include Dr Ahmad Naama, a senior Emergency Room physician at Hadassah Ein Kerem who completed a one year Emergency Medicine Fellowship at The Royal Melbourne Hospital; Dr Hava Gadassi, who trained for two and a half years at the Centre for Community Child Health at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne and is now Medical Director of Goshen in Israel; Dr Oded Breuer, a Paediatric Pulmonologist at Hadassah who completed a two-year paediatric Respiratory Fellowship at the Princess Margaret Hospital for Children in Perth and Hadassah Obstetrician and Gynaecologist Dr Uri Dior who completed a fellowship in Advanced Gynaecological Endoscopy at the Royal Women’s Hospital and returned to Hadassah to take up the position as Head of the new Hadassah Endometriosis Center.

“I finished my obstetrics and gynaecology training at Hadassah last September and I wanted to find a hospital where I could develop my skills through sub-specialty training,” Dr Haj Yahya said from his temporary digs in Melbourne.

“The Royal Women’s Hospital is internationally-recognised and I felt the clinical exposure here would complement my training, perhaps better than anywhere else.  I also spent time in Melbourne previously, and fell in love with the city and its people.”

While the pandemic hasn’t impacted on the quality or availability of the training, it has meant that some of the conferences and academic meetings he would have attended in person are now held via Zoom.

While his medical training and work have always been in Jerusalem, it was also where he met his wife.  But these aren’t the only reasons he plans to return to Hadassah.

“Jerusalem is one of the most beautiful places on earth, and Hadassah is our home,” he says.  “There is unique diversity in Hadassah’s population and people from many different backgrounds are working together in a way that I find inspiring. Every day we are achieving so much for the community.”