Life & Culture

Sheba, the City of Health

Sponsored: Sheba Medical Centre executives reveal the secrets of quality patient care, today and for the future


At the Sheba Medical Centre, a newborn is in severe respiratory and cardiac distress. Within minutes, an expert cardiologist and paediatrician rush to the maternity unit. Because this is such a large hospital, with experts from so many disciplines, the relevant experts are on hand and they save the baby’s life.

Dr Zipora Strauss, director of neonatology, has witnessed such a scenario many times. It is this teamwork that defines the Sheba Medical Centre.

“We are all proud to work at Sheba and believe we are better doctors when we work as a team,” she says. “Everyone does what they can for the patient, no matter the cost.”

The centre, at Tel Hashomer, is the largest and most advanced healthcare provider in the Middle East. Recently, Newsweek declared it one of the 10 best hospitals in the world and Forbes listed nearly 50 of its staff among its “best doctors in Israel”.

“We are incredibly proud to see so many of Sheba’s top doctors in this prestigious magazine,” says Professor Yitshak Kreiss, director general of the centre. “Our doctors strive to provide first-rate medical care via their innovative methods to patients from across the entire spectrum of Israeli society and around the globe, 24/7, 365 days a year.”

Sheba doctors not only work to treat the patients they have, but research new methods to treat the patients of the future. One example is their pioneering CAR-T cell research. They are working with innovative, pod-like receptacles which manufacture CAR-T cells (genetically modified white blood cells that can kill cancerous ones) to treat critically ill oncology patients. This method has the potential to help those with leukaemia and lymphoma at a more affordable cost and with greater efficiency.

Dr Amir Greenburg has worked at Sheba Medical Centre since 1991, where he began his nearly 30-year career as a bedside nurse in the oncology department. He now manages the hospital's 3,000-strong nursing team. While he is thrilled the world is taking note of Sheba’s excellence, he knows the hospital will never allow itself to be complacent.

“This is one of the best hospitals, yes,” he says, “but not because of Forbes or Newsweek. Every good hospital has innovation and cutting-edge research centres. But if you ask anybody here what makes this hospital unique, it’s our spirit.”

“Our goal is to make Sheba the City of Health,” says Arnon Afek, associate director general and acting director at Sheba. “We’re not thinking about 2019; we’re redesigning the hospital for 2030 and beyond. We want to adapt to the future of medicine. Every hospital in the world will have to do this, but we’re leading in this goal.”

The hospital is about to break ground on its Arc (Accelerate Redesign Collaborate) innovation centre. At the new 22,000 sq m (237,000 sq ft) complex, the hospital will revolutionise the future of digital health.

“This will allow us to keep the best minds of Israel in Sheba. We will also collaborate with our friends in the States — universities, hospitals and private companies,” says Afek.

From the prestigious Weizmann Institute for Science in Rehovot to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, the world’s brightest minds are working with Sheba to help eradicate deadly diseases.

Greenburg, however, attributes Sheba’s excellent medical care to good, old-fashioned hard work. But there is a downside to popularity.

“Everyone wants to come to us,” he says. “We’re like the best restaurant in town, but we only have so many seats.” He wishes he could hire more nurses and expand the hospital’s already massive complex even more to accommodate growing demand.

But in Israel, lack of space is always an issue. Which is why Sheba is developing ways to treat patients remotely. By 2025, the hospital hopes to launch redesigned medical centres that will marry cutting-edge technology with excellent patient care inside and outside its doors. From rehabilitation to cancer research to geriatric disease facilities, Sheba hopes its new City of Health will be a beacon for medical innovation not just for Israel, but the world.

At the end of the day, what patients remember most about their healthcare experience is their personal interaction with doctors and nurses.

“The people of Israel are so bright, smart, highly motivated and humane,” says Afek. “This is the essence of why we’re so good.” 


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