When you hear warning sirens in Netanya, you have 90 seconds to reach a shelter. The threat of rocket attack is scary enough in these surroundings but in a hospital it becomes even more complicated. “A dialysis patient is attached to a dialysis machine for about four hours. Detaching a person from one of these machines takes a minimum of five minutes,” explained Urie Lieberman, Director of West Coast Friends of Laniado Hospital.
So what does the hospital staff do when the sirens go off? “The Ministry of Health guidelines state that the staff must seek immediate shelter, and leave the patients behind. These are the guidelines for any above-ground dialysis center in Israel. We have no choice; we have to have a staff that is able to function, that is able to help. I once asked one of the patients, ‘What do you do in that situation, when the siren goes off?’ He told me, ‘We pray.’”
The current dialysis center is on the top floor of the original Laniado Hospital building. “This is an ongoing nightmare that the staff in the dialysis center are going through on a daily basis,” explained Meital Israel, Head Nurse of the dialysis center. This is why West Coast Friends of Laniado Hospital, a Los Angeles based organization, held several events last week to fundraise for a new underground and missile safe dialysis center.
“There is an urgent need for it,” Lieberman emphasized. Events included a breakfast held at home of Mikey and Iris Dardashti and Feridoun and Paridoukht Dardashti. Sol Goldner, Co-Chairman of the Board of WCF of Laniado, was the MC. The goal of the event was to raise $500,000 toward the cost of the new center.
Major General Eitan Ben-Eliyahu, former commander of Israeli Air Force, was one of the guest speakers. Along with 38 years in the Israeli air force, he has special expertise in ballistic missile systems. He spoke about the challenges of the missile threat, explaining that despite the effectiveness of Iron Dome, no system is foolproof. It is therefore necessary to have certain facilities underground. He also stated in no uncertain terms that the hospital relies on the support of the Los Angles community.
The second guest speaker was Miriam Fierberg-Ikar, Mayor of Netanya. She spoke about Laniado Hospital, explaining that it serves 350,000 residents of Netanya and another 150,000 residents from the surrounding areas—half a million people altogether. She pointed out that it is a strategically important hospital. The reality is that also amassed special expertise in mass casualty events during the Intifada. She gave her thanks to the LA community for all of the support they have given in the past to other major projects, including an MRI center and an enlargement of the cardiology department. She also presented the Ryzman family with a special citation for their establishment of the Zvi and Betty Ryzman Family Invasive Cardiology Center.
The event included a special presentation by cantors Netanel Baram and Arik Wolheim, who sang three moving melodies, and a recitation of tehillim by Dr. David Wald on behalf of the welfare of the State of Israel.
The breakfast was a success on more than one level. “It was a very warm and lively atmosphere, very special,” said Lieberman. And the fundraising was well supported, Lieberman concluded, “We were quite happy.”
Apart from the services Laniado provides in Israel, the hospital is also involved in cutting-edge medical research, and representatives of the hospital travel the world to teach disaster preparedness and mass casualty response.