No rest for the weary: Israeli medical crews working throughout Passover

Hospital staff and Magen David Adom national EMS continue battling coronavirus as nation celebrates Passover holiday under curfew.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

As Israelis celebrated the Passover holiday in isolation, medical crews have been sweating it out on the job as the number of coronavirus cases in Israel continues to rise.

The holiday is usually marked by extended families gathering together to recount the biblical exodus from slavery to freedom, but this year that freedom was tested by the coronavirus plague.

The tradition of millions of Israelis traveling to relatives sparked fears of a massive increase in infection, forcing the government to impose a national curfew to keep millions of Israelis at home.

Like elsewhere in the world, holidays usually mean reduced staffing at hospitals as staff celebrate with the rest of the nation.

Not this year. Hospitals and ambulances crews are working overtime as the number of coronavirus patients grows, while police and the military are enforcing an overnight total curfew and a four-day ban on inter-city traffic.

“The entire health system – medical staff, nurses, logistics and laboratories – have been recruited to treat corona patients for two months already, and it will be same for the holiday,” Dr. Vered Ezra, the head of the Ministry of Health medical division, told Israel Hayom.

Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem is currently treating 102 coronavirus patients with six inpatient wards for corona patients, including an ICU and pediatric ward.

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“Staying in the wards is very difficult mentally for the patients, especially on the Seder night. We are up for the challenge,” hospital vice president Dr. Sefi Mendelovich said.

“We will arrange a (Passover) Seder for patients in the wards and try to make them feel at home as much as possible. Unfortunately, we have seriously ill patients and (the Seder meal) is not relevant to them,” he added.

During Passover the Magen David Adom (MDA) national emergency medical service will continue to be on high alert both testing and evacuating coronavirus patients as well as for routine medical events.

In between answering calls, MDA medical crews held the Seder meal at MDA centers across the country courtesy of generous donations of a thousand meals from private individuals.

“This Passover is not ordinary for any of us, and every citizen of Israel feels the difficulty and challenges brought by the coronavirus,” said MDA director Eli Bean.

“For me, the bright spot in this crisis is the support of so many people across the country for the medical teams, including Magen David Adom, who are at the forefront of the fight against the virus,” Bean said.