A cornerstone ceremony that took place last week laid the groundwork for a new emergency department and trauma center at Soroka Medical Center in Beersheva, to be called the Frances and Nathan Kirsh Emergency Department.

A capital fundraising campaign undertaken by UJA-Federation of New York for the medical center in southern Israel has raised $6 million thus far—$5 million gifted by the Kirsh family of New York (in honor of their 50th wedding anniversary) and the other $1 million coming from several UJA-Federation donors.

Israel’s Clalit Health Services matched the donations one-to-one to provide the remaining funding for the $12 million project.

Among the participants at the April 23 ceremony were members of the Kirsh family; representatives of UJA-Federation of New York; Keren Hayesod representatives; Beersheva Mayor Rubik Danielovitch; CEO of Clalit, professor Ehud Davidson; deputy director of Clalit Dr. Mickey Scharf; director-general of Soroka Dr. Shlomi Codish; and other senior hospital directors and staff of the ER and trauma unit.

Several factors created the need to expand the hospital’s emergency services, including the relocation of Israel Defense Forces’ bases in the surrounding Negev Desert, which would mean an increase in potential patients in the next few years; an expected rise in Beersheva’s population by 30 percent; and the general growth of Israeli’s southern population.

As part of the expansion project, the new space will increase the number beds by 43, including two in a dedicated trauma room. Altogether, the new department will include 116 new beds with eight in the trauma unit. Construction of the new department is expected to be completed in 2021. It represents phase one of a two-phase project.

The Emergency Department at Soroka is the most active in Israel, with 250,000 patients annually. The department serves the entire Negev—from Eilat in the south to Kiryat Gat in the north.

During military conflicts and operations in the south, Soroka is at the forefront of treating civilians and the military.

Those gathered at a cornerstone ceremony for a new emergency department and trauma center at Soroka Medical Center in Beersheva, to be called the Frances and Nathan Kirsh Emergency Department, on April 23, 2019. Photo by Uri Leventer-Roberts.

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