Archives for July 2011

Public health activist Dr. Zvi Bentwich has been lauded for a lifetime of combating AIDS in Israel and Africa. He’s also the grandson of a legendary malaria fighter in pre-state Israel.

Dr. Zvi Bentwich

Photo by Dani Machlis/BGU
By: Abigail Klein Leichman
Published: July 20th, 2011 in Health » World
Just because he’s won a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Israeli government for his groundbreaking medical contributions in Israel and among Africans, Dr. Zvi Bentwich is not at all in retirement mode.

Far from it. The 75-year-old director of the Center for Emerging Tropical Diseases and AIDS at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) recently returned to Israel from his 16th trip to Ethiopia, where he’s labored for years to eradicate common parasitic infestations that contribute to Africa’s AIDS and tuberculosis epidemics. His own research uncovered the strong link between intestinal worms and immune system deficiencies in the 1990s.

The grandson of Dr. Hillel Yaffe, Israel’s legendary malaria fighter after whom the medical center in Hadera is named, Bentwich jokes that he was born to be a physician.

“I always said my grandmother probably brainwashed me to be like my grandfather, because she lived with us,” he tells ISRAEL21c with a laugh. “At the age of nine, I already was saying I wanted to be doctor. I am fortunate that I love this profession – I always thought it was made for me.”

So was volunteerism. As early at the 1950s, the Jerusalem native was teaching Hebrew to immigrants, as was his wife-to-be, Tirza. “We basically were both built for doing such work, so it is not by chance that the importance of working for the community and with the community has been a major part of my career,” says Bentwich, today chairman of the board of Physicians for Human Rights-Israel and a longtime activist in public health projects in Israel.

His father, Israel Prize-winning educator Joseph Bentwich, came from a prominent British Zionist family with ties to Theodor Herzl. His paternal uncle Norman was the first attorney general of Palestine under the British Mandate and during World War II served as the personal advisor to Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie. This connection had an indirect but major impact on his nephew.

“I remember as a child, he brought me a rhino tail from Ethiopia — but more importantly, he was considered by Ethiopian Jews as their personal messiah,” says Bentwich. “Call it providence, if you like, that I was later in a position to continue his work with the Ethiopian Jewish community.”

Israel’s first AIDS expert

When the first wave of these immigrants started arriving in Israel in the late 1980s, Bentwich already had a reputation as Israel’s first physician to address the AIDS epidemic that surfaced worldwide around 1982. Having established a research center for clinical immunology at Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot in 1975, “I was the prime candidate to answer the AIDS challenge medically, scientifically and socially.” He helped found the country’s first AIDS clinic and the Israel AIDS Task Force.

Working at the time as head of medicine at Kaplan, and faced with the high prevalence of HIV among the new immigrants from Ethiopia, Bentwich was intrigued as to why AIDS in Africa is more easily transmitted and spread than in the West, affecting more females as well. He was surprised to discover that the vast majority of these immigrants harbored intestinal parasites.

“Immunologists knew parasites have an effect on the immune system, but it hadn’t been well researched. I started studying non-HIV immigrants and then did a series of studies, which are my major contribution to science, showing that the worms indeed have a profound effect on the immune system.”

Thus began his personal crusade to eradicate intestinal parasite infection, eventually receiving support from private foundations, the National Institutes of Health, and MASHAV, Israel’s agency for international development.

This article is reprinted with permission from Israel21c. To read the rest, click here.

07.18.2011 – Kaplan doctor saves Israeli over skies of Tashkent

LAST UPDATED: 07/18/2011 05:04

Rehovot’s Dr. Yael Dinai was on a flight from Israel to China via Uzbekistan when a 53-year-old man felt unwell and had a heart attack.

Zevulun Shalom, right, Dr. Dinai, middle

The head of the emergency room at Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot was on a flight from Israel to China via Uzbekistan when a 53-year-old man felt unwell and had a heart attack. The experienced urgent-care physician, Dr. Yael Dinai, resuscitated the man and ordered the pilot of flight HY505 of Uzbekistan Airways to land and take Gedera resident Zevulun Shalom to the nearest hospital in Tashkent.

Dinai, a physician for 37 years, sat a few seats from the man and, 20 minutes after the stopover in Tashkent, was awakened from sleep by Ellie Limor, an emergency-room staffer from Kaplan, and saw he was covered with a cold sweat. He then lost consciousness.

After initial treatment at the foreign hospital where he was stabilized, Shalom was flown to Kaplan to undergo angioplasty.

Now in good condition, he met Dinai on Sunday and thanked her profusely. He said if she had not been on the flight, treated him and given orders to the pilot, the plane would have landed in China.

The initial drama took place two weeks ago.

Dr. Gera Gendelman, a senior cardiologist at the Rehovot hospital, said if air travelers feel a cold sweat, rapid heartbeat or fainting, they should ask if there is a physician on the plane.

Heart patients must board the plane with a bag containing the heart medication they take regularly. They are advised not to eat a heavy meal four to six hours before the flight. If it is a long flight, walk around at least twice to improve blood circulation in the legs. Make sure not to smoke upon entering the plane, and don’t lug heavy suitcases in the airport.

07.14.2011 – Home Front Command holds mass casualty drill at hospital

IDF Spokesperson Blog
Published on: 

On Tuesday (July 12), the Home Front Command held a drill at Kaplan Hospital, located in Rehovot . The mass casualty drill is conducted every three years. It simulated a series of car crashes involving of some 100 casualties and checked the readiness and performance of the hospital.

“More than 100 casualties, this is a number that all hospitals are asked to be prepared for routinely”, said Lieutenant Colonel Yehuda Dahan, head of hospital assessments.

In order to make the drill as realistic as possible, the only resources used were those available at the hospital at the time of the drill. ”That means if there are 10 operating rooms in the hospital and six are occupied on the day of the drill, only four are available to doctors during the drill,” Lt. Col. Dahan said.

The head of the Home Font Command, Maj. Gen. Eyal Eisenberg attended the drill.

Maj. Gen. Eyal Eisenberg at Home Front Command drill
Maj. Gen. Eyal Eisenberg at Home Front Command drill (Photo: Sgt. Iris Lainer, IDF Spokesperson Unit)

“This hospital prepared for this drill for five months in conjunction with the Home Front Command and Magen David Adom,” said Northern Command medical chief Col. Ariel Bar. “The initial results show that the hospital was well prepared. Now we will meet and see if this was actually the case”.

Home Front Command drill at hospital
Simulating casualties as part of the Home Front Command drill (Photo: Sgt. Iris Lainer, IDF Spokesperson Unit)

This drill follows the nationwide civil-defense drill which took place three weeks ago,  “Turning Point 5″. The drill was part of a week long exercise that trained civilians in facing various scenarios such as simulated chemical missile attack on a northern Israeli city.

07.12.2011 – IDF conducts emergency drill at Kaplan Hospital in Rehovot

07/12/2011 18:44

On Tuesday, Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot turned into a “battlefield,” as a large drill was run by Home Front Commander Aluf Eyal Eisenberg and IDF Medical Corps officer Aluf-Mishne Ariel Bar.

A “massive catastrophe” was announced, in which about 100 soldiers wearing red-blood makeup appeared in the emergency room and were dispatched after initial “treatment” to surgical theaters and trauma units.

The “makeup” had been carefully applied by women soldiers who had taken a special course and made the “wounds” look very real. Bar said the drill boosted the hospital’s ability to cope with emergencies.

Hospital director Prof. Ya’acov Yahav said that the exercise showed that Kaplan can handle such events and thanked the staff for taking the drill very seriously.

07.07.2011 – New midwife delivers sister’s baby in Rehovot

LAST UPDATED: 07/07/2011 04:23

Just two months after completing her midwife studies, Weiner delivered her sister’s 4.2-kilogram daughter.

Baby sleeping in cot

Olga Weiner, a nurse from Gedera, and Katrina Ratner of Rehovot – two sisters five years apart – apparently believe in togetherness.

On Wednesday, just two months after completing her midwife studies, Weiner delivered her sister’s 4.2-kilogram daughter.

Four years ago, both sisters gave birth to their first daughters on the same day.

Weiner, for years an emergency-room nurse, decided to be an obstetrics nurse and deliver babies. She spent the last year in a demanding course at Kaplan Medical Center where she works.

“Already at the start of Katrina’s pregnancy, I promised her I would try hard to pass the course so I could be her midwife,” she said. “We are close sisters, and we gave birth together last time. It’s a lot of responsibility to bring into the world one’s younger sister’s baby, but it’s also a very emotional event.”

The neophyte midwife said that being new in the field, she received a lot of support from the doctors, other midwives and families in the delivery room.

Ratner said that her sister came specially to the hospital to work a shift in obstetrics when she started to feel labor pains.

“Olga put on her uniform and was with me from the moment I arrived,” she said.

“Her course was long and difficult, but she met the challenge and was accepted. It was a wonderful feeling that my sister – the person who is closest to me – would be at my side all through the delivery. It was an unforgettable experience.”

Weiner said now that she has succeeded she already plans to deliver babies of other relatives, friends and neighbors, in addition to her regular patients.

“There is no doubt that as a starting midwife, it was an incredible thing to deliver my younger sister’s baby,” she said.

07.06.2011 – 8 young volunteers honored for exceptional nat’l service

LAST UPDATED: 07/06/2011 04:04

Honorees provided community assistance, from working on farms to teaching kids soccer, as alternative to serving in army.

Administration for Nat'l Service honors volunteers

Muhammad Titi, 19, did not have to enlist in the IDF after high school because he is Muslim. But the young man from Kafr Baane, located near Karmiel, still wanted to contribute to the country.

So, Titi elected to teach soccer to kids during a year and a half of national service, though the young Israeli-Arab was not required to volunteer as an alternative to army service.

Titi said he also knows other Muslims who are slowly starting to volunteer.

For such service, Titi and seven other volunteers from across Israel were honored at an annual event Tuesday night for exceptional volunteer service by the Administration for National Civil Service.

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud) and Science and Technology Minister MK Rabbi Prof. Daniel Hershkowitz (HaBayit HaYehudi) spoke at the program at Binyanei Hauma, in Jerusalem.

The eight volunteers honored are a few of over 14,000 people who are currently enrolled in national service.

Though the majority of national service volunteers are religious young women, anyone exempt from army service can volunteer – including haredim, Muslims, people with mental and physical handicaps, and juvenile delinquents – according to Sar-Shalom Jerbi, director of the Civilian and National Service Authority at the Ministry of Science and Technology.

Rivlin called the National Service Program a “grassroots effort that can change society from below.”

Addressing the volunteers, he called on them to imagine and build a society characterized by equal opportunity, integrity and kindness.

Jerbi told The Jerusalem Post that devoting time to national service is an opportunity for individuals to feel more connected to Israeli society.

“There should not be a situation where someone wants to volunteer and cannot,” he said. “I see great value in integrating populations of Israeli society that do not enlist in the army – like criminals and mentally and physically disabled persons… So that it will be easier for them to become a part of the workforce,” he said, referring to the professional challenges some of those who do not complete military service are facing.

It is also a chance for different segments of the population who may not otherwise interact to connect with each other, Jerbi said, adding that the Administration for National Civil Service is now creating more programs to facilitate national service for haredim and Arabs.

Indeed, in September, Jerbi said an additional 2,200 volunteer opportunities working with the elderly, children and prisoners – among others – will be added to the current 1,500 spots for Israeli-Arabs.

Timna Rubin, a 20-yearold from Kibbutz Hulata, who was also honored at the ceremony, was exempt from serving in the IDF after being diagnosed with cancer in high school. However, Rubin did not allow the illness to prevent her from serving her country in other ways, she said.

Rubin volunteered at a boarding school for troubled children near Netanya during her first year of service. The following year, she helped underprivileged youth develop life skills through physical and mental activities, such as agriculture, environmental work and caring for animals at Ori’s Farm in Sdot Micha.

“I learned how much fun it is to give… The place in which I now am is just amazing,” she said, reflecting on her experience and the ways in which she has matured.

Rubin said she most enjoyed seeing the changes within the teenagers she worked with, and has become more time-focused and diligent. She plans to work on a farm in the Negev before possibly pursuing a career in education.

Other volunteers honored included Leah Tayeb, of Ra’anana, who volunteered at the Laniado Hospital in Netanya, and Odiya Chivyon, who was a member of the Garin Torani in Netivot.

Another honoree, Tzvi Amitai, of Rishon Lezion, was exempt from national service because he was born with speech problems, but still chose to volunteer for two years at the Kaplan Hospital in Rehovot.