Project Spotlight: Israeli Trauma Room Opens in Laniado Hospital

The Fellowship  |  November 10, 2021

Two girls in masks and lab coats looking at a computer.
(Photo: Ilan Assayag)

In 2021, The Fellowship provided a grant to Laniado Hospital in Netanya, Israel, to fund the purchase of equipment for a new Trauma Center established in the hospital’s Emergency Medicine Department.

“Laniado’s emergency room has always been very crowded, receiving around 90,000 visits a year,” explains Professor Zvi Shimoni, Medical Director of Laniado Hospital. “Hundreds of patients came with varying levels of injuries, including victims of terror attacks. There was no separate trauma unit. And the most critically wounded patients lay in beds between people in less serious condition.”

With no dedicated trauma room, it was difficult for medical professionals to administer treatment with ease and efficiency. Since one of The Fellowship’s most important projects in Israel is the support of Israeli hospitals, which in addition to providing medical care to the population also treats victims of terrorist attacks, we stepped in to help fund the equipment that will help save lives at Laniado Hospital. After all, they’ve treated many terror victims of some of the worst attacks in Israeli history. In fact, Professor Zvi Shimoni remembers one of the scariest nights of terror he’s experienced at the hospital.

The Deadly Suicide Bombing

On Passover eve in 2002, Professor Zvi Shimoni was sitting at the seder table with his family, including his parents, who have since passed away. They did not even have the first cup of wine (out of the four traditional cups of wine at the seder) when his beeper went off with a message that there was a terrorist suicide bombing in the Park Hotel and he must rush to the hospital immediately.

Professor Shimoni’s mother, a survivor of Auschwitz, later said she had flashbacks of her ordeal in the concentration camp. “How could it be that I survived Auschwitz and this is taking place in Israel?” she said.

Professor Shimoni raced to the hospital where dozens of wounded people were already being carried into the small emergency room. Professor Shimoni, who became the medical director of Laniado about five years ago, founded the hospital’s internal medicine department in 1988. On the night of the Park Hotel attack, he acted as “triage physician.” He stood outside the emergency room as the wounded were brought in and had to determine which patient needed the most urgent and critical care. “I remember seeing people I know come in,” he said, “the elderly mother and father of a family I knew, themselves Holocaust survivors.”

The attack at the Park Hotel in 2002 was the worst suicide bombing in the history of Israel. Thirty people were killed and 140 were wounded, many of them elderly and Holocaust survivors.

The Hospital Is a Lifeline

Laniado Hospital is in the city of Netanya, a coastal city of about 221,000 people, situated thirty kilometers (18 miles) north of Tel Aviv. Its 14 kilometers (8.7 miles) of beaches make it a popular location for vacationers. Laniado has 450 beds and serves a population of close to a half million people. It is the only hospital in Netanya.

The emergency room in Laniado was small and crowded until recently, when thanks to The Fellowship’s generous donors, Laniado Hospital opened a trauma room that is equipped with all the necessary medical equipment and medications, including a defibrillator to treat people in cardiac arrest. The new trauma room began operation about two months ago. And it will make a tremendous contribution to the quality of medical care Laniado can offer to people suffering acute trauma.

This new trauma room means Laniado will officially become recognized as working trauma center in Israel; Laniado was previously not considered a trauma center. They recently signed an agreement with another hospital that is a major trauma center. This center will guide them in upgrading their capabilities for trauma care. In addition to the new trauma room, they are also recruiting various specialists, surgeons, and other physicians.

“I am deeply grateful for The Fellowship’s gift,” Professor Shimoni said. “I can say that we at Laniado are proud. We now have a fully equipped trauma room, and most importantly, we can treat the patients who need our care. The Fellowship’s donation is being utilized totally. A heartfelt thank you to The Fellowship.”