Israel is at war. Many hospitals and clinics are overwhelmed as medical and non-medical personnel have been called up to army service. With nearly 3000 injured to date, hospitals and medical personnel are feeling tremendous strain. And as the situation continues, that number is expected to rise.
One family in Israel came up with an initiative to help Israel’s medical community.
Yigal Marcus, a financial executive and former New Jersey resident living in Israel, spoke with his “medical” siblings earlier this week about the need for additional medical personnel should the conflict escalate. He never could have imagined what happened next. His wife wrote a simple WhatsApp message to a small group of friends “If you know any doctors or nurses who may be interested in volunteering, please be in touch with Yigal Marcus” – but that message went viral.
Within 48 hours more than 5,300 people signed up on a secured database. The list includes medical and non-medical volunteers from over 40 countries – including one from Saudi Arabia.
“The response has been overwhelming,” said Dr. Eliana Aaron, Marcus’s sister, a nurse practitioner, and founder of EMA Care, a medical management and health advocacy company in Israel. Her company is organizing the effort to help in conjunction with Israel’s Ministry of Health and the Israel Medical Association. “We currently have more than 5,300 names on the list, including medical specialists from Israel and around the world. They include internists, surgeons, therapists, nurses, nurse practitioners, and PAs (physician assistants), and more are continuing to sign up.”
Those with a valid license to practice medicine in Israel, the US, Canada, and the EU can sign up to volunteer. EMA Care is working with the health authorities to implement emergency procedures to expedite credential recognition and temporary emergency licensing. All information is maintained in HIPAA-secure files and will not be shared beyond the institutions and government bodies helping to expedite credentials.
“Just as we have done in the past, we are preparing for every contingency,” explained Leah Wapner, CEO of the Israel Medical Association. “At the moment there is no need for volunteers from abroad but if there is, we will now be ready.”
In addition to medical personnel, hospitals urgently need non-medical volunteers to help with a variety of jobs such as transporting patients, distributing food, logistics, stocking supplies, and administrative tasks. Aaron says they have already received reports of hospital staff shortages as many hospital staff members are now serving in the military.
“We just received a formal request from the Ministry of Health’s Emergency Operation Center to take charge of volunteer placements for non-medical personnel in all medical institutions in the country,” said Aaron.
Aaron said that they will soon initiate a fundraising campaign to develop the infrastructure to implement all volunteer coordination throughout the country. “Going forward, the MOH will refer all of Israel’s medical institutions to us for volunteer coordination, so we will need to ramp up our support systems,” she said.