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American Committee for Shaare Zedek

In the aftermath of a disaster or terrorist attack, hospitals throw open their doors to the injured. Dedicated doctors and nurses fight around the clock to save as many lives as possible.  This holds true throughout the world, but especially in Jerusalem’s leading hospital, Shaare Zedek.

The emergency room at Shaare Zedek ranks as one of the most skilled in the world, especially in reacting to large scale emergences. Yet Shaare Zedek always strives to improve. Northeast Region Director of American Committee for Shaare Zedek, Sharon Goldwyn knows that in an emergency situation any efficiency can save lives.

That’s why Sharon forged a partnership with the First Nonprofit Foundation to develop a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) patient tracking system. Primarily used in mass-casualty events, the RFID system streamlines the intake and tracking process and helps provide key details to the emergency doctors. That ensures as many patients as possible have access to urgently-needed treatment.

“I know that over the course of its implementation, the RFID system will save hundreds and probably thousands of lives,” Sharon said.

History of Shaare Zedek and the American Committee

Founded in 1902, Shaare Zedek provides free medical care to all Israeli citizens, treating over 700,000 people in 2015. Since Shaare Zedek is a private hospital, they receive no funding from the Israeli government for new equipment or new facilities. The hospital therefore relies on private citizens, in the United States, Israel and around the world to help fund new equipment, research, and facilities.

The American Committee for Shaare Zedek (ACSZ) organizes fundraising — in the United States — for the Jerusalem hospital. Founded in 1949, the ACSZ was formed by descendants of the original Shaare Zedek founders, all of whom canvassed for the hospital separately. They decided their efforts would be stronger together.

Shaare’s Zedek Emergency Response

Tragically, Shaare Zedek earned its emergency response expertise in practice. The Jerusalem hospital has always responded to the frequent terror attacks in Israel. Since September of 2015, terrorists have killed 40 and injured 527 Israeli citizens—Shaare Zedek has treated 75% of those people.

Philosophy of Peace in a Troubled Land

Nearly as important as their role in healing the injured, Shaare Zedek’s philosophy defines them in a time and place of conflict. As part of their mission statement, Shaare Zedek asserts: “politics stop at the door, the hospital serves as a microcosm of coexistence without prejudice.”

Their response is to treat all people, regardless of religion or creed, as equals. Over more than a decade, Sharon has heard of and witnessed the barriers coming down. At Shaare Zedek, Muslim doctors treat Jewish patients, and vice-versa. She recalls hearing of Jewish children recovering alongside Muslim children, and as a result, their families bond over shared experience.

The Danger of Inefficiency

In a mass casualty situation, chaos pushes a typically organized hospital past its limits. Patients in urgent condition stream into triage, all in dire need of medical attention. The doctors and nurses performing the life-saving care feel overwhelmed, of course. So do the assistants who check-in patients and keep records.

“You don’t ask them all to fill out a form.” Sharon said.

Tragically, at a time when people need care the most, they are at the greatest risk for not receiving it. Even in Shaare Zedek, one of the most prepared hospitals worldwide, this is a risk.

“Inefficiency can be very dangerous. If those taking care of the injured are unorganized, obviously, we are going to lose more patients.” Sharon felt compelled to save lives.

RFID: a Lifesaving Initiative

During her fundraising efforts, Sharon contacted First Nonprofit Foundation. Immediately, she knew she wanted to work with them.

“Working with First Nonprofit is just exceptional,” Sharon said. “It is heartwarming to know that there is an organization like First Nonprofit Foundation out there.”

To find the perfect project both for Shaare Zedek and FNP, Sharon brainstormed with Dr. Ofer Marin, head of Shaare Zedek’s trauma center. In addition to his leadership at Shaare Zedek, Dr. Marin helms the Israeli Defense Forces Field hospital, which responds to medical crises around the world. Dr. Marin represents one of the sharpest minds in the world in emergency medical response.

Together, Sharon and Dr. Merin brainstormed about the potential of the RFID project at Shaare Zedek in helping to guarantee that Shaare Zedek provides the best emergency medical care.

The RFID device.

Shaare Zedek’s RFID bracelet.

The RFID patient tracking system will ensure that patients in need of lifesaving treatment will be electronically tracked from the time they enter the hospital.

RFID Steps in a Mass Casualty Event

  1.  When someone enters Shaare Zedek, they are immediately tagged. Only a name and photo need to be taken.
  2. The patient with their tag number is connected to the general hospital system. That information and their medical condition is recorded under the number and stored in a database to be accessed wirelessly by a doctor.
  3.  As medical care is provided, the patient’s condition is updated in the database. This ensures correct care while preventing redundancy.
  4. If and when a patient’s family comes looking for them, the RFID system provides the patient’s location.
  5. The RFID tag is returned to pool of available tags upon the patient’s discharge.

The Impact

This RFID system will be used for every mass casualty event Shaare Zedek will respond to in the future. In addition, monthly RFID drills will be performed in the hospital to ensure the staff feels capable to use this essential technology.

Planning for tragedy can be an unpleasant task—yet it’s one that saves lives. The RFID patient tracking system will enable will ensure they are prepared.  Every member of the Shaare Zedek community commits themselves to providing lifesaving care — to ALL who require it. Sharon and the American Committee for Shaare Zedek found a dedicated partner in First Nonprofit Foundation.

To learn more about the compassionate care of Shaare Zedek and to support their mission, contact the American Committee for Shaare Zedek.

If you believe your organization or product might qualify for a partnership, contact First Nonprofit Foundation.