The story of Emek Medical Center in Afula is little known within the international community, but the center’s Director of Development and Public Relations Larry Rich is on a mission to change that.
He has traveled across the world to share the story of the hospital, located in Afula in the Jezreel Valley in northern Israel, which in its unique capacity serves half a million Jews, Muslims, Christians and Druze from the region.
Most recently, Rich visited Scotland, a country not known for its friendly Israel views. Rich traveled there to talk about the Israel he knows – that seen through the prism of a medical institution, where the efforts of Jewish and Arab physicians to heal patients of all backgrounds are part of everyday life.
Rich told Tazpit News Agency that the reactions to his talks – even from the most hostile of audiences – are largely positive.
“I’m just a guy that works in a hospital – not a politician,” said Rich. “And I share what I see – Arabs and Jews working together and caring for each other in a setting where barriers and stereotypes don’t exist. It’s a reality of Israel that never gets exposure in international media.”
He cites the years of the first and Second Intifada, when Emek Medical Center treated hundreds of Palestinian men, women, and children from Jenin and Judea and Samaria without payment. “Despite the threats that Israel faces, our medical institutions across Israel give equal medical treatment to all.”
Additionally, Emek Medical Center, which is comprised of 500 beds and staffs 300 physicians and 700 nurses as well as support personnel, also provides medical training to Arab doctors and surgeons from Jordan.
“What makes the Emek hospital so unique is that it is made up of a multi-ethnic staff that services a multi-ethnic population. There is no institution like this in the entire Middle East,” Rich told Tazpit.
“After my talks, I often hear from members of Muslim audiences, who tell me that they have never heard of this kind of story coming out of Israel,” said the American-born Rich, who has also spoken to challenging audiences such as J Street and Muslim activist groups in the United States. “Most anti-Israel activists – when they listen – are taken by complete surprise.”
During the Scotland tour, Rich spoke in several cities including Glasgow and St. Andrews as well as at the Scottish Parliament and at the University of Dundee, where audiences were also filled with anti-Israel hecklers who attempted to disrupt Rich’s talks unsuccessfully.
A noted Scottish doctor involved with the BDS movement gave an anti-Israel rant following Rich’s talk at the Scottish Parliament – but paused to ask if Emek hospital would be willing to provide surgical treatment to a patient who was an acquaintance of his in the region.
“I have a feeling that he was talking about a Palestinian and I gave him my contact information but I haven’t yet heard from the patient since I’ve returned to Israel,” said Rich. “I hope to hear from him soon.”
One of the most important points that Rich imparts to his audiences is that there are different ways to see the Jewish state. “People have a choice – to focus on hatred and divisiveness, or on real life examples of human coexistence. Emek hospital is a story that needs to be on the table.”
About 250 women attended the hair drive in Jerusalem organized by the Zichron Menachem Association for the Support of Children with Cancer and their Families, which worked in conjunction with the Pantene hair products company. Among the donors were three sisters whose father is battling cancer, and a young girl who had recovered from the disease and donated the wig she wore during her illness.
They “created a semi-automatic handheld device for rapid and safe IV insertion. Called SAGIV, the device uses infrared sights and electrical sensors to identify veins, insert the needle into the correct location, and withdraw it in a single, rapid robotic movement,” writes the website Nocamels.com, after interviewing Dr. Yotam Almagor, the group’s clinical expert.
“Inserting an IV is a demanding procedure, and many times children need to be pricked five, six or more than 10 times for successful insertion,” Dr. Almagor was quoted as saying. “This leads to a lot of pain and frustration.”
The group’s prototype has already been tested successfully on children at the pediatric ward of Hadassah Medical Center.
“We had a lot of excited parents asking that we use the device,” Dr. Almagor saod. “Children who used to be pricked numerous times in every visit can now be connected in a single attempt.”
Watch a video of how it works below:
These wild rodents, no friend to farmers, are extremely resistant to cancer and live 10 times as long as mice, Prof. Aaron Avivi at Haifa University said.
“We claim that defense mechanisms developed along tens of millions of years of evolution must necessarily be a better key to solving cancer — and not the cancer-prone, short-lived inbred rat and mouse that are already laboratory products,” Avivi told ISRAEL21c.
“We truly believe that we have found the potential ‘missing good organism’ that the community of cancer researchers is seeking to progress in our effort to solve cancer in humans.”
ISRAEL21c writes: “Avivi and his colleagues suspect the creatures’ cancer resistance is tied to their ability to survive abrupt and sharp changes in oxygen supply. Hypoxia, a condition caused by a lack of oxygen, leads to human heart and lung diseases, brain strokes and cancer.”
Says Avivi, “The fact that it is tolerant to hypoxia is related to the fact that it is free of ailments as it ages, and we deduce that this is the reason why it survives over 20 years, while rats of the same size and weight survive only four years.”
An article in BMC Biology written by Avivi and his colleagues proved for the first time that it is nearly impossible to induce cancer in the blind mole rat through treatment with carcinogens that cause tumors in mice and rats.
But the coup is that normal cells propagated from the blind mole rat “fight off cancer cells from different tissues and different species, including human. The same cells from control groups of lab mice, rats and wild spiny mice lack this remarkable ability.”
“Our effort now is to try and identify, isolate and purify the substance/s that only the blind mole-rat secretes, and to discover with what component/s it interacts that is active only on cancer cells,” Avivi told ISRAEL21c. “This might lead to a medicine for humans suffering from cancer.”