On the afternoon of October 7th, as smoke from mornings atrocities filled the sky and the general population were still in a state of shock, Israeli medical professionals were already foreseeing numerous challenges piling up before them. Priorities would undoubtedly have to be rearranged, as well as Sheba as a whole. Thousands, both soldiers and civilians would be wounded and mental trauma would be felt on a mass scale.
Director of the Integrated Rehabilitation Hospital and Sheba, Prof. Amitai Ziv harkened back to the day saying, “By the afternoon of October 7, we knew this was a huge event that nobody had ever encountered in Israel. We immediately realized we will have two major challenges, each one a tsunami. One is the number of patients that require rehabilitation, and two, the largest numbers ever of people suffering from acute stress disorder, which might lead to PTSD — post-traumatic stress disorder.”
MSR Prepares Medics for Life-Saving Scenarios
Also being the founder and director of the Israel National Center for Medical Simulation (MSR) at Sheba, Prof. Ziv immediately focused all the center’s needs on wartime simulation training. For years, MSR has been enabling medical professionals to take part in the practice trials of clinical procedures using robotics, surgical simulators, and even actors. As of today, over 300,000 healthcare workers have been trained and certified by MSR.
He saw to it that high-tech, full body mannequin simulators were transferred from Sheba to the frontlines. This specialized training would significantly boost medical army personnel’s trauma management skills and prepare them for life-saving scenarios that would unfortunately be essential as soldiers entered Gaza.
Other preparations saw departments moved around Sheba and others significantly expanded upon. One new department established specifically for wounded soldiers is the “Returning to Life” rehabilitation unit. It provides a range of therapeutic options, from high-tech to low-tech and virtual reality systems. However, for many soldiers, the department’s most crucial aspect lies in its youthful and social environment, fostering an atmosphere that effectively aids patients in their return to life.
Sheba Prepares for Hostage Reintegration Challenge
Once news spread that hostages were taken into Gaza, medical professionals across the nation knew that this would be the biggest challenge. Reintegrating them back into Israeli society after spending months in such dire circumstances would be a challenge in itself, but many would be coming home to deceased relatives, homes that had been demolished and a nation locked in the clutches of war.
With this in mind, Ziv initiated a comprehensive training program, featuring simulations, to equip Sheba’s medical professionals, psychologists, social workers, and Israel Defense Forces psychosocial experts with the skills needed to assist and support the hostages upon their release from captivity. In November, more than 100 captives were freed, with 30 of them being directed to Sheba.
Sheba and IsraAID Unite on The Homefront
On a bright note, the war ushered in an unprecedented collaboration between Sheba and IsraAID, the Israeli disaster relief organization known for its emergency medical response, post-trauma mental health assistance, and humanitarian relief efforts following events like earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, fires, and conflicts. While IsraAID and Sheba had previously partnered on international disaster relief missions, this marked the first time they joined forces within Israel itself.
Recognizing the forward nation of the healthcare sector at Sheba and the nation as a whole, Prof. Ziv stated the following, “This is a long journey. We will be dealing with the outcomes of the war for years to come. Yet I trust the solidarity and courageous spirit of the Israeli people. These unique, exceptional qualities are of utmost significance for successful rehabilitation — and for resiliency, strength and cohesion of Israeli society.”