An Israeli Hospital Set Up a Covid-19 Emergency Care Ward in 72 Hours

Tel Aviv-area hospital Sheba Medical Center is preparing for the next stage of the outbreak, when many serious cases will require treatment with ventilators, and set up 45 beds in an isolated underground facility

Amir Kurtz 12:5822.03.20
Israel’s hospitals are preparing for an influx of severe coronavirus (Covid-19) cases. The Chaim Sheba Medical Center at Tel HaShomer, in the greater Tel Aviv area, has prepared an isolated underground emergency care ward for critical cases in just 72 hours. The ward will include 45 beds for patients who will require ventilators and urgent care. Professor Haim Berkenstadt, the head of Sheba’s anesthesiology unit, told Calcalist that the hospital is preparing for the next stage of the outbreak, which may see many complex and severe cases, and according to experts could start as early as next week.


The underground location is an emergency hospital facility that has never been used before, according to Sheba. It has a completely separate infrastructure for electricity, oxygen lines, monitors, and more. As part of its preparations, the hospital also prepared and trained specialized teams to treat coronavirus cases. The assigned personnel come from ER, internal medicine, and nursing staff, and the hospital expedited training with the required protective gear for personnel. “Preparing the team requires special training for treating incredibly severe clinical conditions when the caregiver is wearing maximal protection,” Berkenstadt said.


New health units for coronavirus patients at Sheba Medical Center in Israel. Photo: Shaul Golan New health units for coronavirus patients at Sheba Medical Center in Israel. Photo: Shaul Golan


Itai Pessach, Sheba’s head of emergency medicine, said that in order to avoid seeing the same mortality rate as Italy, Israel needs to boost its emergency care abilities fast. “We hope the facility will serve as a tie-breaker that will help us defeat the virus,” he said.


Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center (Ichilov) has also been upping its capabilities. The hospital relocated its general emergency care unit to the emergency cardiac unit, to clear up 18 beds for an isolated coronavirus emergency ward. As the unit has already been in use, it has ventilators and emergency care equipment, but the hospital bought more ventilators, protective gear, and sanitization equipment at an investment of millions of shekels. Ichilov is preparing to accept severe cases as soon as Sunday or Monday. The hospital also combined or relocated some of its existing wards to make room for less severe coronavirus cases in isolated units.