The Jerusalem Post’s list of the 50 Most Influential Jews of 2020 features people who have made significant and diverse contributions to all areas of life, including science, medicine, government, art, and literature. Prof. Yitshak Kreiss heads Sheba, the largest hospital in Israel and one of the best in the world. Kreiss recognizes the value of healthcare as a way to build a genuine bridge between people – as an unlimited force for prosperity and peace in the region.
“Sheba is not just a hospital – it’s an idea, a concept,” said Kreiss in an interview with The Jerusalem Post. “We have a commitment, a role in the world, not only to provide the best medical care we can give people here in Israel, but also to have an impact on healthcare in the world.”
Sheba’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic illustrates his point perfectly. Not only was the hospital the first to open a dedicated coronavirus ward in Israel, but it was also the first in the world to develop a telemedicine program for COVID-19 patients.
“We immediately understood that we would have to think differently to provide care when dealing with this pandemic,” said Kreiss.
Sheba hosted the national command center for COVID-19, and even members of the Mossad joined the team. Health leaders from around the globe – the United States, Europe, the Persian Gulf – contacted Sheba for assistance and offers to collaborate.
The Corona Hub was established at the ARC Innovation Center at Sheba. Experts who staff the unique hub are focused entirely on designing and implementing technology to care for coronavirus patients.
Kreiss explains that when he began working at Sheba, he thought the goal was to be the largest or best hospital in the region. But now, he understands that Sheba’s prominence comes with a commitment to impact the world.
He views the Corona Hub and other hospital efforts as a shining example of Sheba’s Zionist spirit. “It is part of our role as healthcare providers and it is part of our being a light unto the nations – Tikkun Olam.”
Kreiss attended the Peace for Prosperity workshop held in Bahrain in June 2019. According to his Facebook post following the visit with Bahrain’s former Ambassador to the US, Houda Nonoo, they discussed the effects that healthcare and medical innovation can have on economic growth for the Middle East and Gulf regions
“The conference was called Peace for Prosperity,” Kreiss said. “I understood immediately that healthcare – medicine – is one of the best vehicles for prosperity in the region. It has no barriers at all. You can build a true bridge.”
Since that conference, Kreiss shared that he has been corresponding with anyone who is willing to speak, including leaders from the UAE, which recently declared normalization with Israel. He revealed that partnerships with other Gulf States are currently in the works, but sharing details could “endanger these relationships.”
As the second wave of COVID-19 rages, Kreiss responded to the question of whether Sheba can continue to cope now and through a third wave of the coronavirus. He declared, “I can say positively that Sheba can cope with the challenge. This is our duty and commitment to the State of Israel.”