Category Archives: American in Tel Aviv

The Renewed Hospital in Tel Aviv: A Story of a Patient

By Marylin Maghen, an American in Tel Aviv

IN THE PAST TEN YEARS OR SO, ICHILOV HOSPITAL in Tel Aviv has been building so much that it now looks like a city in itself. In March this year, the hospital finally launched its new wing – the Sami Ofer wing – and recently I’ve had the dubious pleasure of experiencing it as a patient. Well, all I can say is that Cedars-Sinai has nothing on us! This place is gorgeous. It looks and feels like a luxury hotel. Spacious ain’t the word – it’s huge! Nurses’ station like a spaceship, gorgeous slate floors all over, pleasant lighting, big rooms, CLEAN!!! QUIET!!! – full bathroom in every room, attentive nurses, friendly interns and residents to look after your every need, relatively good food, everything electronic…well, I can’t sing its praises enough.

I’ve been in the hospital a few times during the 22 odd years I’ve lived in Tel Aviv: you know, a broken limb here, a little cosmetic surgery there, etc. But last week was the first time I was ever in the hospital for something really serious.
It happened like this: one day I started to feel kinda “funny” in the chest. This continued, and a few days later, while walking from Mah Jong to my car, I felt shortness of breath. Uh oh. That was a little scary. Next morning I hot-footed it to my family doctor, who is a curmudgeonly ex-South African.

“Go across the street immediately,” he yelled (he yells a lot), “and get an EKG!”

I went across to the clinic of my health fund, where they gave me an immediate EKG and didn’t like the result. The nurse faxed the EKG to a cardiologist and then had a 3-way conversation with the cardiologist and my doctor, and they all decided I had to go to the hospital immediately (my point being: when they’re really worried about you, they work like an express train). Oy! I didn’t think I was that sick! The Magen David Adom (ambulance) station was also right across the street, so before I knew it I was in an ambulance and off to the ER at Ichilov.

Tests in the ER – blood, EKG, chest x-ray, everything done FAST – whew, I really thought I was on an express train. Meanwhile, all tests were coming out OK, but they decided to admit me anyway. Bummer. I asked why. “When the heart is concerned,” a resident told me, “we don’t take chances.” Fair enough.

Okay, so this is the part I dreaded. In the past, a stay in the hospital here was something like this: clanking pipes, cramped rooms, narrow beds, beds in the hallways, surly nurses, aloof doctors, no air-conditioning, toilet down the hall, worst food in the world…you get the picture. But then I discovered the whole Sami Ofer thing, and let’s just put it this way: this is socialized medicine, guys. I had the best (and fastest!) treatment in the world in the most luxurious hospital in the world. And I didn’t pay a dime.

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