On the summer of 2006 the Israel–Hezbollah War (also known as the Second Lebanon War) broke out. In the days leading to the war, dozens of rockets and mortar bombs hit settlements along the confrontation line, and for 34 days, northern Israel – spanning from Carmiel and Haifa in the west to Tiberias in the East, and Beit Shean and Afula in the South – was attacked by long-range missiles. Jewish, Arab, and Druze civilians were wounded. A great amount of property was damaged.
Naturally, the hospital receiving the greatest number of wounded was Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa. Providing treatment to soldiers and civilians, some of whom severely injured, was done under the constant threat of Hezbollah missiles. No less than 60 rockets were aimed to reach the campus area, turning patient treatment more difficult than ever.
“It was clear to us that after the war we must make sure this will not reoccur,” says Esti Golan, Director of International Relations and Chief of Strategic Development of the campus. “By the end of the war, we started fortifying the ER and later embarked on an ambitious and complex project: building the largest fortified hospital in the world”. 50 feet were dug, nearly half of which on ground water level, to build an underground parking lot which, under normal circumstances, is used to park 1,500 vehicles and can be turned, within 72 hours, into an underground hospital accommodating 2,000 patients. The medical appliances are set in the walls and ready to be pulled out when the need comes.
To fortify the ER and to build the underground hospital the campus raised funds. 300,000 USD came from WLI, an amount donated after 200,000 USD were donated for treating PTSD, another result of the war. “Our relationship with WLI was created through the Schwartz family. Carole Schwartz, a former board member, and her husband were in touch with the American Friends of Rambam Medical Center, and since 2008 we have been receiving significant donations from them.”
Further down the road, 750,000 USD were donated to the children’s hospital. “The donations are very diverse,” says Golan, “They allow us to handle a wide variety of issues – security, psychiatry, children’s healthcare.”
Nowadays, the campus is building the Eyal Ofer cardiology building. Moreover, they are building a 20-story research building which will be used by the Technion, Haifa University and the hospital. They are hoping to get additional funding which will be invested in northern Israel’s public health.