Israel has gained a worldwide reputation for helping other countries in crisis and has a longstanding tradition of coordinating relief missions to alleviate disease, hunger, and poverty. As Israel’s largest and preeminent medical institution, Sheba Medical Center has been involved in most of these missions.
However, in Ukraine, it is Sheba that leads the joint effort, working alongside the Israeli Foreign and Health Ministries to establish and operate a dedicated field hospital that serves Ukrainian refugees and locals, as well as trains local medical teams in telemedicine and field medical care.
Situated in the western Ukrainian city of Mostyska, Sheba’s ‘Shining Star,’ or ‘Kochav Meir’ field hospital is named after former Israeli prime minister Golda Meir, who was born in Ukraine and founded the Foreign Ministry’s Agency for International Development, Cooperation and Aid program, which oversees the field hospital mission.
Shining Star includes a triage area, an ER ward, men’s, women’s, and children’s wards, labor and delivery facilities, imaging and telehealth technologies, mental health services, a lab, a pharmacy, and an outpatient clinic. The field hospital’s approximately 100-strong staff includes doctors, nurses, medical lab workers, medical engineers, and pharmacists, as well as logistics and operational personnel.
“Our mission is to make sure that Ukrainian people know that they are not alone,” says Yoel Har-Even, Director of Sheba Global who leads the Sheba mission alongside Prof. Elhanan Bar-On, Director of the Israel Center for Humanitarian Emergency and Disaster Medicine. “We have a clear moral obligation not to look away. As human beings, as medical professionals, and as Jews.”
Speaking on the challenges of establishing a field hospital, Har-Even explained: “Setting up a field hospital is no easy task. But with agility, dedication, and professionalism, Israel has honed its skills in providing the highest level of medical care in the toughest of places. While we know that, unfortunately, we cannot help everyone, as the Jewish sages write in Ethics of the Fathers, “It is not incumbent upon you to finish the task, but neither are you free to absolve yourself from it.”
For his part, Prof. Yitzhak Kreiss, Director General of Sheba, added: “It is our personal and national responsibility to extend a helping hand to every human being, especially since we have the knowledge and capability to carry out this mission.”
At Sheba, we believe that medicine provides hope without boundaries or borders. We came to Ukraine to do just that.