On March 11, 2024, Dr. Maurit Beeri, Director General of ALYN Hospital, met with a group of ALYN donors at the American Friends of ALYN Hospital office in New York City. She spoke at length on the topic of “ALYN Hospital’s response to the challenges of the war – both internally and externally.

Her goal was to share what ALYN has been doing to maintain the working relationships amongst the diverse staff and how the hospital has reached out to help and support their patients, individuals affected by the war, and other institutions in the broader medical community.

Adam And Maurit

While, in her words, “Everything we do every day has become more of a challenge over the past few months of course, the events of October 7 changed everyone.”

ALYN Hospital’s response to the hostilities has followed a three-pronged approach:

  1. Ensuring the physical safety of the children and staff.
  2. Creating a safe emotional space for employees and families from both sides of the conflict while ensuring that the doctors, nurses and therapists would feel safe in their interactions with patients and their families.
  3. Providing opportunities for the staff to feel like they are part of the solution and doing meaningful work towards the war effort, even if they are not on the front line, while continuing the lifechanging work they do at ALYN.

Ensuring the physical safety of the children and staff:

The immediate response was to figure out how to defend the children from the missiles. These measures have included expanding and improving the shelters, closing gates, adding guards, and placing an additional guard shack before visitors/patients can enter the premises.

The Ministry of Health is requiring hospital to be able to run for three months without any outside assistance – meaning having sufficient electricity, water, medicines and food. Since it is impossible to rush the children in the Respiratory Rehabilitation Department to shelter in 90 seconds, the designated time we have from an alert from Gaza, the hospital is looking at creating an underground, protected space for the Respiratory Department for the children who are dependent on ventilators.

In essence, Dr. Beeri said, “We are preparing for the worst and hoping we will never have to face it.”

Creation of a safe emotional space for employees and families from both sides of the conflict:

In appreciation of how emotionally fraught the situation is, given the multicultural nature of the staff and patient community, the hospital administration is closely following conflict-resolution guidelines to create boundaries regarding acceptable and unacceptable speech. The goal is to make sure that all feel that they can be safe in their interactions within the hospital, while recognizing that people live in both worlds, on both sides of the conflict, and hear different narratives.

Dr. Beeri emphasized that it is important that ALYN continue to be recognized as a hospital where coexistence remains possible, even under these circumstances.

At any given moment, there are relationships that are tenuous, but there are also a lot of beautiful moments where individuals find ways to support each other. “This is the ALYN we want to keep because this is the ALYN that concentrates on the future of the children,” Dr. Beeri said.

Providing opportunities for the staff to feel like they are part of the solution:

The hospital administration recognizes that many of the staff members would like to be taking more of a front-line role in the national war effort. In response, the hospital has tried to create opportunities for staff to engage in meaningful activities. Among these have been lending physicians and therapists to Sheba-Tel HaShomer Hospital where many of the soldiers are being treated to work in Sheba’s rehabilitation unit; enlisting PELE to create adaptive solutions for evacuees and soldiers (see our December Newsletter for more information); and volunteering on understaffed farms and supporting farmers by purchasing produce from southern Israel. The hospital is also actively supporting its own staff who are enlisted or have family members in active duty.

Dr. Beeri explained, “We are doing the things that we can do. We are not in the middle of what’s happening, thank goodness. But it’s difficult for the people who work for us given this situation, and they’re being asked to continue working as usual. As far as I’m concerned, keeping working as usual is what makes us strong. Unfortunately, this is going to last for a long time, so we have to make sure that we keep going, so that when it ends, we’re not starting from scratch and leaving kids behind.

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