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Israeli E.R. is tribute to terror victim

Dr. Todd Zlot talks about innovations made by the late Dr. David Applebaum, Oct. 4 at Jerusalem´s Shaare Zedek Hospital. (Brian Hendler)

Dr. Todd Zlot talks about innovations made by the late Dr. David Applebaum, Oct. 4 at Jerusalem´s Shaare Zedek Hospital. (Brian Hendler)

JERUSALEM, Oct. 20 (JTA) — The gleaming digital tracking board that dominates Shaare Zedek’s new emergency room, with its color-coded system for monitoring patients, has Dr. David Applebaum’s fingerprints all over it. So do the more private, individual rooms for patients, the improved nurse-to-patient ratio and an area for paramedics to rest and grab a cup of coffee between calls. Applebaum was director of the Jerusalem hospital’s emergency room until a suicide bomber blew up the café where Applebaum was dispensing fatherly advice to his daughter on the eve of her wedding. His daughter, Nava, also was killed in the Sept. 9, 2003, attack at Café Hillel in Jerusalem. Last month a cutting-edge new emergency room opened at the hospital, which has been on the front lines of treating the injured from terrorist attacks in Jerusalem. Hospital staff traveled to top hospitals around the United States before designing the Weinstock Department of Emergency Medicine in a bid to give Jerusalem patients world-class care and attention. Word of the new emergency room has spread quickly in the city — and there has been a 20 percent increase in the number of patients, according to hospital staff. The new emergency room is three times the size of the previous one and houses its own shock and trauma unit. The memory of Applebaum hovers over the space, and his photo hangs at its entrance. “It was his baby. I look at” his picture “and I can’t believe he’s gone,” said Emunah Hasin, a nurse and director of external affairs for the hospital. Todd Zalut, acting director of the Emergency Department, still speaks in the present tense about Applebaum, who for years was his friend and mentor. Like Applebaum, he made aliyah from the United States after completing his training in emergency medicine. He stands over one of the beds in the spacious trauma unit, showing off its features, which include a hydraulic arm with shelves full of equipment that can be brought closer to the patient as needed, heart monitors and a device to keep fluids warm. “It’s very user-friendly,” Zalut said. This user-friendly ethos extends to the entire emergency room, he said. The digital tracking system, for example, was developed by Applebaum and Zalut along with the hospital’s computer expert. It tracks how long the patient has been in the emergency room, which doctor has seen the patient, the status of lab work and the age and reason the patient was admitted. When there is a terror attack in Jerusalem, almost half of the injured are rushed to Shaare Zedek’s emergency room, since it’s the only hospital in the center of the city. The other main hospital in the city for terror victims is Hadassah Ein Kerem. Zalut said an emergency room cannot be built specifically to accommodate the victims of terrorist attacks, but that the new emergency room will help streamline the hospital’s ability to respond to mass trauma in general. The total cost of building Shaare Zedek’s new E.R. facility was about $30 million. The department is built in rings, with the most severe cases in the inner ring and less urgent cases in outer rings of rooms with their own nursing stations. There also is an infection-control room and digital X-ray and ultrasound facilities on site, and a huge storeroom filled with equipment in case of chemical attack. Surveying the equipment, expertise and thought put into the hospital’s emergency room, Hasin looks around and makes a wish she knows is not likely to come true. “We don’t want to have to use it. We want to keep it all at the level of theory,” she said.

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