The recent visit to Budapest by a delegation of the Western Galilee’s Partnership2Gether’s (P2G) Medical Task Force has produced impressive results.
“The impact has been immediate and much bigger than we could have imagined,” says Dr. Arie Eisenman, head of Internal Medicine in the Emergency Department of the Galilee Medical Center (GMC), and co-chair of P2G’s Medical Task Force. “The Hungarians have a large appetite for cooperation and we have already hosted a wide range of reciprocal visits from professionals, academics and exchange students and sent one of our doctors to Budapest to speak about handling mass casualty incidents.”
Dr. Eisenman traveled to Budapest in May for introductory meetings with medical personnel along with Aya Kipershlak, the GMC’s International Affairs Department Director and P2G Western Galilee Director Judy Yuda. Within the framework of the Jewish Agency’s P2G, the Western Galilee is partnered with the 14 U.S. Jewish Federation communities of the Central Area Consortium as well as Budapest. Louisville is part of the Central Area Consortium.
“The aim of the visit was to build a structured partnership between the medical professionals of the GMC and Budapest,” explains Judy Yuda. “We want to build a similar partnership to the ones that we have already built between the GMC and their medical colleagues in our partnership communities in the US. We succeeded in Hungary beyond our expectations.”
Since the delegation visited Budapest, there has been a constant stream of Hungarian professionals visiting the Western Galilee. These include social workers from the Budapest University of Jewish Studies, a senior official from the Budapest ambulance services, exchange medical students, and executives from a private hospital in Budapest.
“We were surprised to find such a strong and cohesive Jewish community,” recounts Aya Kipershlak. “They were thirsty not only for a professional partnership but also to strengthen their Jewish community and identity through a strong connection with Israel.”
In Budapest, Dr. Eisenman gave a lecture on the assistance that GMC is providing for Syrians injured in the civil war. There are currently 100 injured Syrians being treated in the hospital and since the start of the conflict more than 2,000 Syrian have been treated. “Those we treat are members of various militias and I am sure that many of them are organizations not very sympathetic to Israel but it is our policy not to ask questions about their background. They are injured and need medical treatment.”
As with most Diaspora Jewish communities, many members of the Budapest Jewish community work in the medical profession, some of them in senior positions.
Dr. Eisenman’s lecture drew the attention of the Jewish deputy director of the military hospital in Budapest, which also houses NATO’s medical headquarters. As a result an invitation was extended by NATO’s MASCAL (mass casualty) department to send one of their doctors to lecture on pre-hospital incident management and in-hospital major incident management based on their real-life experiences.
Dr. Yoav Hoffmann of the GMC’s Pediatric Intensive Care Department who in a previous position played a major role in 2006 in treating the wounded from the Second Lebanon War was chosen to travel to Budapest. “It was a thrilling experience,” he said. “I spoke of my experiences in mass casualty treatment during the Second Lebanon War. I spoke alongside a Belgian doctor and a French doctor who had treated the injured in the aftermath of the Bataclan massacre in Paris last year.”
With the partnership now firmly established, “More trips to Budapest are planned by GMC staff and more visits from Hungary by medical professionals are expected.