Expansion of Fortified Operating Theaters Wing
Expansion of Fortified Operating Theaters Wing
Extensive progress has been made. However, there is still a large discrepancy between the
medical services available to residents of the Western Galilee region and those available in
other parts of Israel and among other nations in the Organization for Economic Co-operation
and Development (OECD). The disparity is especially pronounced when comparing the
number of hospital beds per capita, and also in terms of the significant lack of surgical and
emergency care facilities, the number of doctors and many other indices.
Unfortunately, this inequality results in lower life expectancy and quality of life relative to
residents of Israel’s center. The population served by GMC is ranked lower than average
in socio-economic indices, and, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, has higher
rates of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, genetic diseases and other conditions.
To close this gap over recent years Galilee Medical Center has dramatically improved the
surgical services offered to residents of the northern region, many of which were not
previously available in the area. These new services include the Neurosurgery Unit (brain
surgery), the Interventional Cerebral Angiography Unit, the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
Unit, and units for hand and shoulder surgery and for vascular surgery. In the past, patients
had to travel to distant hospitals for these treatments and surgeries.
The Current Unsustainable Situation
Altogether, over 17,000 operations were performed in 2018 at GMC, 12% more than in each
of the previous five years. The rate of occupancy of GMC’s operating theaters’ is over 90%
throughout the year – one of the highest rates in Israel.
There are currently 12 general operating theaters at GMC:
- 8 general operating theaters, of which two have limited usage and are too small to
accommodate imaging equipment.
- 4 operating theaters for OB-GYN procedures.
Additionally, there are:
- A small operating room used solely for IVF procedures.
- An operating theater in the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Unit that is located in an
outpatient clinic’s ward used solely for dental procedures.
The eight general operating theaters are fortified and connected to the underground
hospital through a fortified elevator, thereby enabling surgery to take place under fire.
However, the operating theaters are not all located in the same part of the hospital, which
makes it difficult for the anesthesiologists and other critical surgical staff, who have to
rush from one room to the next.
As a result of the increase in surgical services being offered and the opening of new
departments, as well as the huge growth in the number of local residents, the wait time for
operations has risen significantly. Patients are subjected to unnecessary suffering due to
the long wait time before their surgery, with the dates of their long-awaited surgery often
Further, the increased numbers of routine operations
and the unreasonable load placed on the current
facilities, together with the lack of a designated
operating room for emergencies, makes it difficult to
prepare effectively for states of emergency.
Since the Galilee Medical Center is situated close to
the Lebanese border, and based on past experience,
it is imperative to be ready for extreme situations and
to allocate an operating room specifically for these
types of events. Additionally, GMC handles numerous
victims of car accidents caused by the perilous, old
roads in this rural, hilly area.
As the existing operating theaters are small and cramped, the type of medical equipment
and technology that can be used is limited, preventing multidisciplinary teams from being
present during complex operations. Furthermore, there is no space for students and
interns who require training and practice in keeping with GMC’s essential role as a teaching
The existing equipment is outdated and doesn’t suit current requirements. For example, in
the OB-GYN operating rooms, it’s impossible to fit an x-ray machine; in others, there is no
space for surgical instrument trays, etc.
The Solution: Renovating And Building Operating Theaters
In order to effectively provide all the new services offered by GMC, it is essential to ensure
larger, state-of-the-art operating theaters that accommodate multidisciplinary teams and
cutting-edge medical technology. This need is crucial. In the near future complex hybrid
operations will use advanced imaging systems and require collaborating teams of surgeons.
Currently, the operating theaters are spread out among several areas across 1700 square
meters. The planned renovation will significantly enlarge the space allotted for operating
theaters: there will be a total of 19 operating theaters, including five large, state-of-theart
fortified operating theaters, totaling 2500 square meters. All the general operating
theaters will be located in the same building, thereby easing the challenges for facilitating
anesthesiologists and others, preventing the constant need to scurry from one building to
The existing operating theaters will be renovated. And, in order to optimize the complex
workflow, one of the rooms will be moved to the new area and five new fortified operating
theaters will be built. One of these will be designated for pediatric surgery.
Increasing the number of operating theaters will make it possible to significantly reduce
the wait time for surgery and will improve the hospital’s readiness for emergency situations
and trauma and mass casualty events.
The operating theaters will be built according to the latest and most stringent standards
and will accommodate the presence of multidisciplinary teams and new technology during
surgery. Moreover, space will be allotted for the sterile storage of medical supplies, as well
as for administrative and logistical areas, and staff rooms. There will also be designated
areas for patients’ families. Estimated time to plan and complete the project is 4-5 years.
The project was approved by the planning, Development and Construction of Medical
Facilities division of the Health Ministry.
The cost of the operating theater renovation and reconstruction is US $23 million. The
Ministry of Health recognizes the importance of this project and has committed matching
funds in order to accelerate its realization.
Friends Of Galilee Medical Center
The Friends of Galilee Medical Center Association has been active for over 30 years,
promoting and bolstering the Medical Center for the benefit of the community. The Friends
of GMC is a nonprofit organization that raises funds in Israel and abroad and supports
the Medical Center by assisting with the acquisition of medical equipment, helping fund
construction projects, strengthening the bond with the local community by educating for
a healthy lifestyle, and creating an environment that promotes healing. The Friends of GMC
is sponsoring the development of therapeutic gardens and safe playgrounds, along with
integrating art in the hospital’s public space. The President of the Friends of Galilee Medical
Center is Mrs. Raya Strauss Ben-Dror and the Chairperson of the Board is Mr. Michael Illouz.
In recent years, the Friends of Galilee Medical Center completed several significant projects
with the help of generous donors: the Miriam (Mori) Burkis Oncology Institute, the Arieli-
Goldschmidt Delivery Rooms and the Irving Moskowitz Fortified Cardiology Department.
The Friends is currently promoting a large-scale project to renovate the Internal Medicine
Building with the support of the Helmsley Charitable Trust.
About Galilee Medical Center
Galilee Medical Center (GMC) is a government-owned general hospital that was established
shortly after the founding of the State of Israel in Nahariya in the Western Galilee. Today
it is the sole medical center in the region, serving a diverse population of 600,000 Jews,
Moslems, Christians and Druze – civilians and soldiers.
GMC’s strategic location, a mere six miles from the hostile Lebanese border, requires it
to maintain the highest standards of preparedness in case of emergency situations. The
hospital must always be ready to provide advanced treatment for multiple casualty events
involving both civilian and military populations. During the Second Lebanon War of 2006,
the Medical Center suffered a direct hit from a missile, and numerous lives were saved
thanks to the fact that the hospital had transferred its activities to its fortified underground
facilities, the first and only one of its kind in Israel at that time.
Galilee Medical Center received international acknowledgment for its professional and
humane treatment of 3,000 wounded Syrians – 70% of all the victims who were brought to
Israel in order to receive humanitarian aid during the bloody civil war in Syria.
In recent years, GMC has undergone an unprecedented overhaul: dozens of new departments
and new medical services were inaugurated, some in fields that were previously unavailable
to residents of the periphery. These include the new neurosurgery department; the cerebral
angiography unit; head surgery; oral and maxillofacial specialists, and others.
In addition to being the largest surgical center in the Galilee, GMC is the principal teaching
hospital for the Bar-Ilan University Faculty of Medicine in the Galilee, training approximately
two-thirds of its medical students.
For more information, contact
Talia Zaks, Director of Donor Relations, Friends of Galilee Medical Center,
Tel. +972-53-4222310 | [email protected]