Coronavirus Pandemic & The Debbie Eisenberg and Gary Levene Pediatric Intensive Care Unit



Dr. Jessica Ross, a fourth year pediatric resident at the Shamir Medical Centre (Assaf Harofeh), shares her journey from New York to Tel Aviv, and why she feels lucky and safer in Israel at the frontline of the Coronavirus pandemic.

“I always loved Israel and was delighted when I got accepted to The Sackler School of Medicine at Tel Aviv University. I had a great experience as a student and wanted to stay on after graduation.  Israel felt right for me. I also met my husband during my last year of studies. He’s originally from New Zealand and we now live in Tel Aviv with our three-year-old daughter.

I did my residency at different hospitals, including an elective at Shamir Medical Centre (Assaf Harofeh). I grew to love the warm and supportive working environment, especially in Pediatrics. I’ve spent a lot of time in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) and seen first-hand how it has transitioned from an old and outdated unit to a state of the art department, thanks to the generous support of CHW.

You can’t compare the old facility with the new Debbie Eisenberg and Gary Levene PICU. The children that arrive can now be treated in separate rooms with dignity, alongside the best medical equipment and care. The feeling you get when you enter the department is incredible. We are all very proud of it. The working environment feels top quality and I believe the quality of care has gone up as well.

The new facility also caters to our needs as a team. We now have a proper space for morning meetings with screens so we can continue to monitor our patients. I feel like many of our worries are gone and we can now focus on what is most important- our patients. When you have a professional and even a beautiful environment, it pushes you to do your best.

Of course, everything has changes since the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic! The entire hospital has been preparing for and implementing a massive scale up. All our protocols have changed and our experienced staff are working together with other departments to help fight the virus.

It has been especially difficult to treat children during this period, as they don’t have typical symptoms. In fact, most are asymptomatic. We have to treat all children with a fever as ‘suspected’ Coronavirus cases until we can test and confirm otherwise. We set up a special Pediatric COVID-19 Ward but thankfully the children we have treated have not been critically ill.

The Pediatrics Department is a very special place. I feel very supported by my colleagues- they’re like family. The majority of us are women- a lot of powerful women! Our main challenge is to ensure we’re not all on maternity leave at the same time!

I feel very lucky to be in Israel right now. I think Israel is taking all the necessary precautions to ‘flatten the curve’. It feels much safer here than in America. I’m very worried about my parents and grandparents in New York- the epicenter of the pandemic.

Like many frontline workers, I’m juggling a lot right now. My priority is to stay safe and keep my family safe. My husband is incredibly supportive and busy caring for our daughter who is at home during the lock-down. We also have a strong community of friends around us.

We’re so thankful.”

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