Thursday, December 11, 2008

Things You can See at a Hospital

I spent many hours yesterday in the emergency room at one of our larger hospitals, accompanying someone who fortunately seems mostly alright. Being there for hours demonstrates why at any given season there's a TV series running about an emergency room. Though frankly, I'm more impressed by the logistics and planing of the systems. A large hospital has a few thousand employees, it can't be fewer; there must be hundreds of types of jobs involved, with a wade array of necessary training programs and qualifications, from cooks and janitors to doctors and administrators to technicians to IT folks to accountants, fundraisers, legal types, nurses, drivers, librarians, therapists, social workers..... Not to mention the interfaces with external, independent entities such as the Magen David Adom ambulance service that delivers well-bandaged bruised people and hurting but exited prospective mothers. And the whole thing works, and lives are saved - remember, it's not a Wall Street firm or Walmart: if it doesn't work, people die, immediately. Very impressive.

Since Israel has a fine medical system in a pretty small country, there are dozens of such places, with many tens of thousands of employees, if not more. This is the mainstream of the society, not some lunatic circus in Hebron or so-called Human Rights Peace Group with 4 employees and too much European money.

Which is why from time to time I feel the obligation to repeat one of the best kept secrets of this country: that there's no discrimination. The patients are Jews, Arabs, tourists, foreign workers and whoever isn't well. The staff - from janitors to top physicians, are Jews, Arabs, and whoever is qualified for the job. Are there more Arab janitors than Jewish ones? Perhaps. Are there more Jewish physicians than Arabs? Yep. But the explanations for those disparities have to do with factors well beyond the law. As a matter of fact the proportion of Arab patients is higher than their proportion in the populace, which is part of the same (complicated) equation.

1 comment:

kai said...

A few years ago, I spent some hours with a friend in a hospital in Hadera. It was not the emergency room, but rather an ordinary section. It was overcrowded, I saw all those types of patients that you mentioned, the staff was overloaded but still very friendly. For me, it was most remarkable, that I could easily communicate with the nurses - in Russian.

Only hours after we had left, there was a terror attack in the region, and many of the wounded were brought to that very same hospital.

Though we all wish that there were no such occasions, I always admire the professional reaction of the Israeli emergency medical staff under such circumstances.