Galilee Medical Center is building a new school

for children aged 6-18 who are patients of the

Psychiatric Department

The special in-house school currently serving GMC’s large pediatric psychiatry department

is utterly unsuitable. Ground will soon be broken on a new educational and therapeutic

facility that will play a vital role in the treatment of these young patients. Funding is required

to complete the project.

Galilee Medical Center is building a new school

for children aged 6-18 who are patients of the

Psychiatric Department



Why a new school is necessary

For the last 20 years, GMC’s juvenile psychiatry patients have had to spend most of their days

in a crowded underground basement without windows, where the current on-site school is

located. Due to the dire conditions, a new school is a high priority and its construction has

recently been approved and budgeted (partially) by the Ministry of Education, the Ministry

of Health and local authorities.

The new school will be built on 1200 sq.m. of land and will include conventional classrooms

as well as state-of-the-art treatment facilities and outdoor spaces. It is designed to provide

an optimal therapeutic environment for the young psychiatric patients and the 42 staff

members employed by the school. Among other features, there will be a Makerspace room

a therapeutic kitchen, a therapeutic garden and recreational facilities – all designed to

promote wellbeing.

Since most young psychiatric patients spend many months in the hospital and attend the

hospital’s school every day from 8 am to 3:30 pm, this project is of critical importance in

order for GMC to be able to properly treat the growing number of young patients in this


The Child Development Unit

GMC’s Child Development Unit was founded in 1995 as a psychiatric department for

children and teens. It is a unique department that serves as an educational, therapeutic

and rehabilitation center for children from ages six through eighteen and their families. It is

the only facility in all of northern Israel that provides psychiatric services to young children

(in fact, it is only one of three in the entire country), and it includes a wing for teens aged


On average, approximately 150 children are hospitalized in the Unit every year. There are

currently 24 beds, with six additional spots for day-patients. The Unit serves all of Northern

Israel and the young patients come from very diverse backgrounds. They include Orthodox

and secular Jews, Muslim and Christian Arabs, Druze, new immigrants, etc.

GMC’s Child Development Unit provides a solution for families and their children in times of

deep crisis. Unlike other departments, these children are hospitalized for long periods of

time, averaging three months but sometimes up to one year. These patients suffer from a

variety of conditions, such as psychotic behavior, anxiety and eating disorders.

The Unit’s staff developed a unique therapeutic model that includes doctors, clinical

psychologists, family social workers, nursing staff, educational staff and a team that

provides informal counseling. Candidates for hospitalization undergo extensive evaluations,

after which they are admitted to a comprehensive and intensive treatment plan that covers

all hours of the day, including at the on-site school that is an integral part of the Unit.

While the therapeutic team is professional and experienced, sensitive and supportive, the

physical surroundings are currently not conducive to promoting healing. The new school

will enable the devoted staff to provide suitable treatment and will allow the patients to

benefit from the best possible experience.

State-of-the-art facility

The new school’s design will make it possible for its staff to upgrade its pedagogic and

therapeutic approach by implementing innovative techniques that are considered best

practice around the world but are not feasible in the current school.

The new 850 sq.m. school will include:

  • 6 classrooms (36 sq.m. each) – According to age groups, from elementary through

high school.

  • 4 treatment rooms (12 sq.m. each) – Will provide a much-needed supportive

environment for one-on-one sessions.

  • Makerspace (42 sq.m.) – A specially-equipped room for therapeutic projects

according to innovative techniques (see below).

  • Therapeutic kitchen (36 sq.m.) – A kitchen designed to play an integral role in the

treatment of young psychiatric patients.

  • Library (36 sq.m.) – Pleasant learning space with computers and study areas.
  • Sports room (36 sq.m.) – Indoors sports facility.
  • Therapeutic garden and courtyard – Outdoor spaces for recreational and educational


  • Staff room (36 sq.m.) – Today, the school’s 42 staff members do not have a space

where they can meet, discuss cases in private, or take breaks. The new school will

remedy this situation.

Pedagogic approach

Children who are removed from their homes and placed in a hospital setting due to psychiatric

issues require intensive treatment and attention throughout their hospitalization. On

average, they remain in the hospital setting for 3-4 months and sometimes much longer.

Maintaining a daily routine during these long-term hospital stays – such as attending

school – is an important part of their treatment. The Child Development Unit’s school has

two parallel functions: one is pedagogic and one is therapeutic. The professional staff

provides both education and treatment for each child according to their unique needs and


The school’s staff includes a principal, vice-principal, administrative staff, special education

teachers, pedagogic assistants, professional teachers and remedial teachers, as well as

music, movement, art and drama therapists.

Educational goals: By not entirely disrupting their formal education, the children are

able to reintegrate into their regular lives more smoothly once they are discharged. To

this end, they are assigned to a class according to their age and grade level. The teaching

staff is generally in contact with each child’s teachers at home in order to design a suitable

curriculum for them while they are at GMC. The young patients mainly study according to

personal tracks depending on their culture/language, level, abilities and medical condition.

High school students are encouraged to study for the matriculation exams.

Therapeutic goals: In addition to enabling the children to continue their studies, school

attendance is an integral part of their ongoing treatment. As such, emphasis is placed

on strengthening their emotional state and promoting a healing process throughout the

school day. The new school’s treatment rooms will enable staff members to work with

individual patients in a pleasant, private setting. Other unique spaces in the new school will

significantly expand the treatment options available during the school day.

Innovative techniques: Among other new facilities, the new school will feature a

“Makerspace” – a room devoted to multi-disciplinary technological creations that include

carpentry, pottery, sewing, photography, web design and more. Makerspaces foster

interpersonal skills, creativity and self-esteem. This innovative approach, which is popular

in the U.S., encourages participants to use a range of equipment, such as 3-D printers,

milling machines, carpentry tables, electronic parts, etc. to build a physical project. This

type of experiential learning is known to have a positive effect on both educational and

therapeutic fronts.

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.

For more information, contact

Talia Zaks, Director of Donor Relations, Friends of Galilee Medical Center,

Tel. +972-53-4222310 | [email protected]

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 of its kind in Israel at that time.

Galilee Medical Center received international acknowledgment for its professional and

humane treatment of 3000 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, etc.

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.


The overall budget for the construction and equipping of the new school for GMC’s Child

Development Unit is $3 million. Of this, $2.5 million have already been secured, mainly from

the Government.

Galilee Medical Center is seeking $500K in funding to cover the remaining cost of this

important project.


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care for our patients and for those who really need support