In a first in Israeli history, the IDF opened two civilian coronavirus wards at the underground parking garage at Rambam Hospital in Haifa on Sunday in an effort named Operation Tribe of Brothers.
The wards will be staffed by about 100 members of the IDF Medical Corps, including doctors, nurses, paramedics and medics, who underwent speedy training by Rambam staff over the past week.
“The IDF has never treated Israeli civilians, even during the hard days of the 1950s,” IDF Chief Medical Officer Brig.-Gen. Prof. Alon Glazberg said.
The CEO of Rambam Hospital, Dr. Michael Halbertal, told reporters on Sunday that the infrastructure for the underground wards was constructed after the Second Lebanon War in 2006.
“The three-story site provides us with parking during normal times but during times of emergencies and war – and this is a war against the coronavirus – it enables us to treat patients,” Halbertal said.
Dr. Ami Neuberger, a doctor at Rambam, said that he’s treating a woman in his old parking spot in the new underground coronavirus ward, Ynet reported. Dr. Neuberger praised the medical staff, comprised of Jews and Arabs, saying that they “work together in complete dedication” to assist their patients.
“A world away from the bickering in Israeli society, outside, it seems our parking garage is the only normal place on earth,” he said.
The coronavirus wards have room for about 770 patients and will be headed by Col. Dr. Erez Karp, former deputy-director of Beersheba’s Soroka Medical Center and Chief Medical Officer of the Northern Command.
The opening ceremony was attended by Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein, Health Ministry Director-General Prof. Chezy Levy, and other senior health and IDF officials.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)