Archive for Medicine

Contagion

Back from my travels, I lifted my jet-lagged head off the pillow at 5 am. Needing coffee (as I always do upon rising), I zipped down to the nearest Dunkin’ Donuts shop for a medium hazelnut (hot, cream no sugar) and a couple of Old-Fashioned (plain) doughnuts—breakfast of champions. These are the fleeting moments I permit myself to listen to NPR.

A reporter from Sierra Leone described the hell that is the Ebola outbreak there. Sensing that this story might be free of slander toward Israel (though you can never be certain), I listened on. Damned if I didn’t learn something.

The audio/transcript won’t be online for a few hours yet, but the reporter called in with a similar take yesterday:

NPR’s Jason Beaubien is in Sierra Leone, covering the Ebola outbreak that began in March in Guinea and has spread to neighboring countries. We’ll be speaking with him throughout the week about what he’s seeing on the ground. Today he’s in Kailahun, the largest town in the country’s eastern province, with a population of about 18,000, and the epicenter of Sierra Leone’s outbreak. In the past week, Doctors Without Borders staff in Kailahun have treated more than 70 patients with Ebola-like symptoms.

When we called, Beaubien was with a team driving to the treatment center to pick up the body of a 70-year-old woman who died of Ebola. Burial was scheduled for this afternoon.

What will happen at the burial?

The Ministry of Health is handing over body management to the Red Cross. This is one of the first bodies they’re going out to do, so there’s a whole bunch of people [who will be at the burial]. It may turn into a bit of a mob scene. And there’s a lot of anger in the community; there’s a potential that family members might not be happy that such a large group of people are showing up at the burial.

That’s where this morning’s story picked up the trail. The poor woman who died wanted only to be buried behind her simple house. Her son had dug her grave. Before her body arrived, however, the “mob” filled in the grave, in the presence of the regional chief, who forbid the burial of an infected body so near other people. Bury it deep in the bush, he counseled, where it won’t infect the drinking water.

Was he right? Can ebola (which is transmitted by bodily fluids) seep out of a body bag (two, out of an abundance of caution) and into the water table, infecting whole towns? I certainly don’t know.

But doesn’t this sound eerily similar to the AIDS crisis of the 1980s? An unknown disease that seemed to effect only intravenous drug users, homosexuals, and Haitians with terrifying afflictions, before the inevitable death. Nobody wanted to have anything to do with that. We shunned, we turned our backs, we kept our hands in our pockets.

As who would not?

Ebola spreads by contact with bodily fluids. What precautions are people taking?

People have been told not to shake hands. But this is West Africa. People usually grab your hand in both their hands and don’t let go, especially someone who really wants to engage with you. It’s very hard for people not to shake hands. You go into an office, and people have their hands in their pockets just to keep from pulling them out and shaking hands.

America needs no remind of its shortcomings. Slavery, Jim Crow, mistreatment of native peoples, homophobia—ours is not a spotless record. But that doesn’t make America racist, genocidal, or otherwise intolerant, it makes us human. If these Sierra Leone villagers succumb to panic—from one of their own, one whom must have been known by all—they are only human too.

Arthur Miller’s The Crucible is playing in London at the moment (to excellent reviews). Miller’s merciless tale of the Salem witch trials is universally seen as an allegory for the anti-red witch hunts of his own time. But would the “brave”, “heroic” Mr. Miller have the nerve to set a modern Crucible on West Africa?

I don’t think so, either.

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Apartheid State Update

As long as Israel prevents Arabs from becoming heart surgeons, there will be no true equality:

David Mishali, was interviewed on TV Channel 10 along with his wife, journalist Yael Mishali, who expressed their feelings of frustration following the abduction of three yeshiva boys – two of whom study alongside their son at Mekor Haim yeshiva high school.

Dr. Mishali, an expert on heart defects, told the television reporter that he has been operating on patients of all nationalities for decades and it never mattered to him where the patient was from. But after the abduction, he said, he no longer feels the same way. His wife, Yael, who identifies as on the left end of the political spectrum, opined that Israel must stop treating Palestinian Authority (PA) children until the Jewish kids who were abducted are handed back.

Dr. Mishali explained that he suddenly finds himself going to work with a heavy heart, knowing that he has to treat Palestinian children, many of whom, come from Hevron – the very city the kidnapped Israeli teens are thought to be held.

“I’m tired of being the bleeding heart who helps the needy,” he said. “It’s hypocritical,” he added, and said that instead of his usual joy at work, he currently feels depressed there.

You will note that he hasn’t stopped treating Arabs, that he’s been treating them without question or second thoughts for decades—during intifadas, suicide bombings, wars—only that he’s sick and tired of their [bleep]. As who is not?

At least one MK is not:

The Knesset erupted in angry invective Thursday when MK Ahmed Tibi, a former aide to the late PLO chief Yasser Arafat, slammed an Israel heart surgeon who expressed his mixed feelings in treating Palestinian Authority children.

Minister Uri Orbach (Jewish Home) took to the Knesset podium to defend Mishali, in response to Tibi’s parliamentary query on the matter. He told Tibi that Dr. Mishali did not say that he would stop treating Palestinian children – only that he would do so with a heavy heart and frustration. Tibi, he said, was purposely twisting Mishali’s words to make it seem that he had refused to treat Arabs. He also reminded Tibi that his own ethics could be questioned, in view of his long working relationship with Arafat.

In response, Tibi told Orbach that he has “a twisted head” and is “a fascist.”

“Arafat’s shoe is worth 10 people like you,” Tibi screamed. As Tibi was escorted out of the plenum, Orbach told him to leave his shoe behind, because it is worth more than he is.

Arabs and their shoe fetishes—I don’t get it. However, an interesting debate ensued:

Israel prides itself on treating Palestinian Authority Arabs in its hospitals, but some believe this policy goes too far.

Israeli media reports shortly after the abduction of the yeshiva boys said that the wife of Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas was convalescing in a top Tel Aviv hospital after undergoing surgery. The reports said that Abbas’ wife was being held under heavy security in a private room, with no roommates.

In November, it was reported that a granddaughter of Gaza’s Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh had been hospitalized in Israel in critical condition.

How many times have we reported on Israel’s treatment of Syrian wounded? Several.

Israel’s ethics are Israel’s to live with. If treating your sworn enemy—sworn to your annihilation—is part of your moral code, who am I to dissuade you? Similarly, if having your sworn enemy—sworn to your annihilation—serving in your Parliament (MK Tibi, MK Zoabi), calling you fascist, defaming a doctor who has saved countless Arab lives, is part of your moral code, don’t let me tell you otherwise.

But shame on Israel for limiting Hamass to terrorist summer camps. Imagine the benefit to Arab “society” (ha!) if the “terrorist entity” held medical summer camps, or even Bible study camps. More Arab doctors, Israel, fewer Arab terrorists: it’s up to you.

PS: You do get the sarcasm, don’t you?

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Supporting the Troops, Democrat Style

I confess I let the VA health system story pass without comment. To my discredit, I assumed it was but another in a too-long series about shabby care for the country’s military veterans.

Take this PBS story from 2007:

“The Veterans Affairs Department, which is chronically under- funded and under-resourced, and is already crying out for help in the country.”

“Jon Town is a war hero. And he has to beg, plead, scrap and claw to get results. And ultimately the only way he’s going to get results is because he’s gone to the press and he’s shamed the people in power into some sort of action.”

Or the series in the Washington Post from the same time, during the Bush administration.

But I was wrong. This is far worse:

An outraged Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., slammed the “systemic” problems plaguing Veterans Affairs health care centers around the country on Saturday, saying the Obama administration has “failed” to respond to the mismanagement and delays that have been linked to dozens of deaths nationwide.

“Decent care for our veterans is among the most solemn obligations a nation incurs, and we will be judged by God and history by how well we discharge ours,” McCain said in the weekly Republican address. “That’s why I’m so deeply troubled by the recent allegations of gross mismanagement, fraud and neglect at a growing number of Veterans Administration medical centers across the country.”

“It’s been more than a month since allegations that some 40 veterans died while waiting for care at the Phoenix VA were first made public,” he said. “To date, the Obama Administration has failed to respond in an effective manner. This has created in our veterans’ community a crisis of confidence toward the VA – the very agency that was established to care for them.”

The Phoenix facility reportedly worked to disguise patients’ long wait times by creating a secret waiting list and later destroying the evidence. Reports suggest the same practice of using secret waiting lists may be happening elsewhere across the country.

One rogue office is bad enough—say, an IRS outpost in Cincinnati, to pluck an example. But multiple reports of secret waiting lists begins to sound like a conspiracy. Who and how high are the next questions.

Germaine Clarno is a VA social worker and employee representative in Chicago. She alleges there are multiple secret waiting lists of veterans kept at the Hines VA Medical Center.

Asked which divisions of the hospital kept the secret waiting lists, Clarno says, “Employees are coming to me from all over the hospital, from outpatient, inpatient, surgery, radiology.”

Clarno says the purpose of the lists was “to make numbers look better for their own recognition and for bonuses.”

The VA grants bonuses to executives and doctors, partly based on short wait times. Whistleblowers — including Dr. Sam Foote, who revealed the scandal in Phoenix, where up to 40 veterans may have died — believe bonuses give an incentive to conceal delays in care.

Clarno says it is easier for bosses to claim short wait times — and collect the reward — than it is to explain why the target can’t be met. She says she believes that throughout the VA, people are faking the wait time data in order to receive bonuses.

But you know why I think I overlooked this story?

It sounds so much like other stories of government-run health care, I assumed I already had covered it:

Nurses, midwives and other carers battered by David Cameron’s assault on NHS wages are night furious at revelations their bosses’ pay packets have risen by 36%.

Senior managers pocketed £166million in bonuses and other extras last year – as the Tory-led Coalition slashes £20billion in costs from the beleaguered service.

That is up 36% from £122million the year before.

The rise, on top of their annual salaries, could have paid for an extra 4,000 nurses, who have suffered a 1% cut.

See what I mean?

An investigation into the deaths of five cancer patients has found the surgeons involved were ‘dysfunctional’ and ‘secretive’.

Keyhole surgery for stomach and throat cancer was only stopped at Maidstone Hospital in Kent last July, despite whistleblowers raising concerns about patient care three years ago.

At least our American victims os socialized medicine have been trained to defend themselves, unlike others I could name:

A sex attack victim yesterday hit out at the ‘disgusting’ contrast between the care given to a Latvian who tried to rape her and her own treatment by the authorities.

While Rolands Brize has cost taxpayers an estimated £150,000 including psychiatric help at a private hospital, his victim has suffered delays getting NHS treatment for the scars inflicted during the terrifying assault.

The 23-year-old graphic designer has also been distressed by having to wait 13 months to see Brize jailed since he pleaded guilty to attempted rape because sentencing was repeatedly adjourned.

She is currently in an ‘NHS queue’ awaiting treatment.

She is also furious that UK authorities were helpless to stop Brize moving here despite him having been sent to a mental hospital in Latvia for burning down his family home.

Calling for him to be deported, she added: ‘Personally I feel he should never have been allowed into this country in the first place. There are seemingly no controls about stopping criminals. I feel as if the victim has been forgotten. It’s appalling.’

Don’t get me started in immigration. We’ll revisit the VA disgrace over the coming days and weeks. We apologize for having missed it for so long.

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The Odessa File

You know what happens when Israelis around in a crisis.

The doctor (or medical student) is in:

A few hundred Israelis studying abroad in Ukraine have been treating victims of the violence between government forces and pro-Russian militants.

Gonen, a 25-year-old from southern Israel studying medicine in Odessa, described the mayhem that has engulfed the city since Friday. “Yesterday noon the hostilities started. An activist friend of mine asked me and my friends to help treat the wounded.

“We set up a command and control center just like Magen David Adom (emergency personnel) and brought in the victims. We were three Israelis and four Turkish nationals. We treated about 30 people across the city.”

Gonen, a second-year medical students who served as a medic in the IDF, said local residents bought the team bandages and disinfectants: “You can’t rely on the Ukrainian authorities from a medical point of view. There were few ambulances so we arrived at different places and simply treated people in the street.

“We treated them until nighttime. We saw fatalities; this usually-pastoral scene became a war zone. I treated one wounded man while he was surrounded by corpses and people crying and screaming.”

“I felt safe until now, but I won’t walk around the city anymore. There are pro-Russian militants carrying Israeli flags to provoke the population. The Israelis here just want to go home,” said Gonen.

Sadly, in this world we live in, home is where you belong.

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Hypothetical Question

Say you’re out for a jog. Then say, just say, you get shot in the back by a trained sniper. Hey, it could happen.

What would you do?

Gennady Kernes, the mayor of Kharkiv in the Ukraine who was critically injured Monday, has been flown to Israel for medical treatment, reports Arutz Sheva’s Ian Gold.

Gold reports from Kharkiv that Ukrainian authorities asked Israel to assist in treating Kernes, who was shot in the back by unknown assailants while on a morning jog. The authorities reportedly believe that Israeli doctors have more experience than Ukrainian ones in treating gunshot injuries of the type Kernes has suffered.

Gosh, wonder why?

The fact that Kernes is Jewish may have factored into the decision as well.

I’ll bet.

The investigation into the attack indicates thus far that the mayor was shot by a “skilled” assassin who possessed an accurate weapon. An unexploded hand grenade was also found near the scene of the crime.

Kernes was injured in the lungs, stomach, liver and spine, and doctors are fighting for his life.

The rabbi of Kharkiv, Rabbi Moshe Moskowitz, told Arutz Sheva that the mayor is “a very dear Jew, with a warm and loving connection to the community, and we are shocked by the assassination.”

“We are praying for his health,” he said, and urged those who wish to pray for him to mention “Moshe son of Hana.”

Whether the assassin was pro-Ukraine or pro-Russia may matter to some, but not to Moshe Kernes. Aggie asked why Jews even lived there anymore. Jews should be allowed to live anywhere, but this story suggests they’d be wiser to move to Israel before they’re shot, not after.

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We Get Results

Yesterday, we learned and reported that the state of Oregon was burning dead Canadian babies (technically, “fetal tissue”) that Canadians could not be bothered to burn.

That ends today:

An Oregon county commission has ordered an incinerator to stop accepting boxed medical waste to generate electricity after learning the waste it’s been burning may include tissue from aborted fetuses from British Columbia.

Sam Brentano, chairman of the Marion County board of commissioners, said late Wednesday the board is taking immediate action to prohibit human tissue from future deliveries at the plant that has been turning waste into energy since 1987.

They are shocked—shocked!—to learn that they may have been burning discarded human tissue for more than a quarter century. What did they think, that the baby rattle and Tickle-Me Elmo doll in the fuel were made of quarter-sawn oak?

Kristy Anderson, a British Columbia Health Ministry spokeswoman, told The Associated Press that regional health authorities there have a contract with a company that sends biomedical waste, such as fetal tissue, cancerous tissue and amputated limbs, to Oregon, where it’s incinerated in the waste-energy plant.

Did they not read the contract? Of course they did. They just saw nothing wrong with the practice (though, reportedly, those living around the plant were queasy about what came out of the smokestacks).

In the future, Oregon, do with the “biomedical waste” what other cultures do with it: make sausage.

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Dr. Kill Dare

We’ve covered this story before, but since our president and Secretary of State still seem ignorant of it, let’s hear it again:

“I’m not scared,” said the Syrian, whose name was withheld by the hospital because Israel and Syria are in a state of war. “Nothing worse will happen to me, so who cares if I’m in Israel?”

Despite decades of hostility between Israel and Syria, hundreds of victims of Syria’s 3-year-old civil war have received life-saving treatments in Israeli hospitals. Israeli medical personnel say that while they’re happy to treat Syrians, the wounded pose a unique set of challenges.

“As nurses, it’s unique to deal with wounded like this,” said Refaat Sharf, a nurse at Ziv, which has treated 162 Syrian patients. “We hadn’t been used to these injuries, neither in terms of their character nor their frequency.”

Since last year, more than 700 wounded Syrians have come to Israeli hospitals via the Syria-Israel border crossing on the Golan Heights. The Israel Defense Forces has set up a field hospital there, and transfers patients it cannot care for to nearby hospitals. In some cases it brings a family member as well.

Adi Pachter-Alt, Rambam’s deputy director of social work, said the patients’ reluctance to speak openly about their feelings comes more from the trauma of being injured and less from ill will toward Israel.

“It’s hard for us to give overall emotional support because they mistrust us,” Pachter-Alt said. “It’s not due to the state of war. It’s because you’re in a different state after trauma. You’re very alone, very suspicious.”

Medical personnel said that when they do leave the hospital, Syrians are grateful for the care they received. The Syrian patient in Ziv said his opinion of Israel had flipped during his stay there.

“Before the revolt, the authorities told us Israel was the enemy and we must fight them,” he said. “But after the recent events there, I saw that in Israel they take care of the patients. All of the Israelis I met, Arabs and Jews, seemed unified.”

Don’t tell Oxfam that! They’ll just want to hire Scarlett Johansson back, and they can’t have her!

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Cure HIV? Ask Me How!

Who said the Muslim world hasn’t contributed to science in centuries (millennia)?

An Egyptian TV channel recently aired a report on an Egyptian military invention of the first device that cures the HIV and hepatitis C viruses.

Anchor: There have been many reactions to the publications in the media that the Egyptian Military Engineering Department has invented a device that produces electro-magnetic waves, which eliminate the hepatitis C virus within 10 days with no side effects. The device has a 100% success rate.

General Dr. Ibrahim ‘Abd Al-’Aati, head of the team that invented the device: For this device, I was offered two billion dollars. I’m talking dollars! I was offered two billion dollars to forget about it, but I refused. I told them to write “an Arab Muslim Egyptian scientist discovered this.” But they said: “Forget about it. Just take the check, and we will fly you to any country in the world.” I said: “Why should I?” I fled back to Egypt. The Egyptian intelligence agency has protected me here. The intelligence nabbed me and brought me here.

Reporter: In 2010, the Egyptian military successfully invented a device that can identify a hepatitis C virus carrier in a crowd. Today, using the same methods, they have invented a treatment device. The patient’s blood passes through the device, which produces electro-magnetic waves that kill the virus, and turn it into amino acids.

D’oh! Why didn’t we think of that? Heckuva job, Anwar! Now, how about another machine that can turn malignant tumors into lime jello?

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Our Friends, the Nazis

Hey, don’t laugh.

Or cry:

At a secret site in Germany, after World War II ended, Americans used the services of Nazi scientists to develop advanced techniques for the investigation of Soviet prisoners, including the use of “truth serum” (LSD) and mind controlling methods which they would use on prisoners.

The doctors and elite Nazi scientists helped the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the US intelligence system test the use of LSD and other investigative techniques that would help them extract information from the Soviet spies they had caught. The work took place in a German base named “Camp King”, near Frankfurt. In 1945, the site served as a detention center for the German scientists, but within three years, the detainees were the Soviets, while the German scientists became collaborators with the Americans.

An important asset for the Americans was Dr. Walter Schreiber, the Third Reich’s former Surgeon General who was later moved to an Air Force base in the US. The services of former Deputy Surgeon General of the Third Reich Dr. Kurt Blome, who was involved in biological warfare research, were also used in the base.

Ew. It’s one thing to plunder German rocket ingenuity, as we did with Werner von Braun (“A man whose allegiance/Is ruled by expedience”). But the Nazi eugenicists? What possible common cause would we have with the likes of Mengele’s bosses? (The very idea of a Surgeon General for the Third Reich should make us sick. It does.)

The motive behind the establishment of “Operation Paperclip” was a suspicion raised by top security and military American leadership’s memos – that the US and the Soviet Union may enter a “total war” in 1952, a war that will include the use of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. For that reason, the Americans decided to use every means at their disposal, including Adolf Hitler’s top scientists and the chemical warfare they developed under the Third Reich, including sarin gas and biological weapons.

[T]he CIA soon showed an interest in using LSD outside of the battlefield, and in intelligence warfare. At the time, Americans were examining options of mind manipulation by using drugs, hypnosis and electric shock, in an attempt to match similar Soviet techniques of interrogation.

Take a second here. The Soviets were our allies in WWII (hard not to use “” around allies); the Nazis, the most evil regime the world had ever seen (until Mao?), were our enemies. (I’m going to excuse Genghis Khan out of multicultural sensitivity.) Yet we were cuddling Nazi “doctors” (had to use “” there) before the last mortar was fired, the last camp liberated.

It can’t have been because we didn’t know. Our interest in them meant of course we knew. What else did we want from the “Surgeon General” of the Third Reich? Cold remedies? Come on.

We were expecting “total war” (from ‘shrooms to mushroom clouds) with our “ally” less than a decade after celebrating victory in the ETO with them. There had to be a reason. Maybe we knew something there too.

Maybe we knew that Stalin had been ally of the Nazis too. (No need for “”; they signed a nonaggression pact.) Maybe we knew something about Lenin’s and Stalin’s “cleansing” of any reactionary forces or beliefs (which process was anything but clean). Maybe we knew something about Stalin’s role in the Ukraine famine that took millions of lives (not that we learned anything about it in the New York Times).

Churchill knew:

‘Terrible things have happened. A tide of Russian domination is sweeping forward . . . After it is over, the territories under Russian control will include the Baltic provinces, all of eastern Germany, all Czechoslovakia, a large part of Austria, the whole of Yugoslavia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria.

‘This constitutes one of the most melancholy events in the history of Europe and one to which there has been no parallel.

He got that right. He even wanted to go to war with the Soviets to push them back—even using German forces as they surrendered! But no one else had the strength or the nerve. Instead, they hunkered down for forty-five years of Cold War. Eastern Europe—half a continent—was lost to freedom for two generations. The wounds are still raw today.

Every war is dirty, ugly, cruel. The dogs of war maul the innocent as well as the guilty. It’s no different in a Cold War, even if no (or few) shots are fired. Maybe the “Surgeon General” of the Third Reich had clean hands.

Maybe. Doubtful. Nah…

They may have been Nazis, but they were our Nazis. That was not right, but when presented with the monsters of Hitler and Stalin (and later Mao), what the [bleep] was one supposed to do?

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Eye Candy From Israel

Readers Jeanette and Yerushalimey sent us some pretty cool news from Israel.

Jeanette’s story:

Women have proudly served in the IDF since the very beginning. Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion, wrote an impassioned letter to religious communities outlining the necessity of women serving and protecting Israel. Since then, women have taken increasingly high-level positions in the IDF. These female Israeli soldiers challenge stereotypes through the work they do every day.

Just two examples:

Untitled

First Sgt. Monaliza Abdo is an Arab-Israeli woman who proudly served her country as a combat soldier. She wasn’t required to enlist, but her determination to protect Israel motivated her to volunteer. As a fighter on Israel’s southern border, she rose through the ranks to become a commander, teaching soldiers how to combat terrorism and other threats. Just a few weeks ago, she honorably completed three years of service – one more than the required number for Israeli women.

Lt. Amit Danon was the Israeli national champion in rhythmic gymnastics when she enlisted in the IDF. After embarking on her path as a soldier, she decided to leave her previous life behind and became a combat officer in the mixed-gender Caracal Battalion. Lt. Danon now leads other soldiers as platoon commander.

Six other pretty neat stories at the link. Before I move on to Yerushalimey’s story, can I just mention to any fashion designers in our readership that the military look is molten hot on women? Take it to the bank.

Yerushalimey’s story:

University’s Professor Zeev Zalevsky created a contact lens that, when attached to electrodes, creates sensations in the retina of the eye that can be translated into images. The contact lens receives signals from a regular “off the shelf” camera or smartphone, which the wearer either holds or wears. When a blind person wearing the fitted contact lens looks at an object or points the camera towards it, the camera converts the image into electronic Braille by sending tactile sensations to the retina. The communication system between the camera and the lens operates by Radio Frequency Identification, or RFID.

Although still in the prototype stage, the system has been successfully tried out on animals. One of the results of those studies shows that the animals could actually see their way through an obstacle course in the dark. Nighttime vision is one of the challenges that Zalevsky hopes to overcome next. He speculates that by connecting an infrared camera to a transponder delivering sensations to the contact lens, wearers would be able to see in the dark.

Okay, maybe other bloggers would have led off with the miracle of sight over pictures of hot chicks firing automatic weapons. You’re welcome to read those blogs. We go to the important stuff eventually.

Maybe I’m the weird one (ahem), but I kind of like being an ally of a country like Israel. Those were the days.

News like this daily at Good News From Israel.

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Feel Good Story

My last post of the day will be a heartwarming one.

Trust me:

This week saw Israel deliver vital medical services to Syrian patient number 200. Last month, a twenty-year-old Syrian refugee gave birth to a boy in the Rebecca Seiff Hospital in Safed, making the baby’s delivery the first Syrian refugee birth in an Israeli medical facility.

The biggest winner of 2013 was not one individual; rather a group of health care professionals in northern Israel from Ziv Medical Center in Safed and Sieff hospital who cared for wounded Syrians.

The endless misery unfolding in Syria has produced few moments of optimism.

A telling example is the pregnancy in Sieff hospital. Mira Eli, the nurse in charge of the maternity delivery ward at Sieff, described the care provided to the pregnant Syrian woman: “We gave her a hug, a shower and food. We gave her postnatal advice. She’s a very young woman who came without her husband or anyone else accompanying her, and it was her first delivery. Our job is to ensure that every new mother remembers her delivery as an unforgettable positive experience, whatever her ethnic, national or religious background.”

The young Syrian mother said, “I don’t feel like I am in an enemy country. The staff are all helping me and worrying about me. My baby, too, is getting wonderful, devoted care.”

Dr. Oscar Embon, the director of Sieff hospital, told BBC’s Kevin Connolly, “I don’t expect them [Syrians] to become lovers of Israel and ambassadors for what we do here, but in the interim I expect they will reflect on what was their experience here and that they will reflect differently on what the regime tells them about Israelis and Syrians being enemies.”

There’s always hope.

But maybe not for everyone:

Major European news organization devoted fair and balanced coverage of Israel delivering medical services to Syrians. There was, however, commentary that attributed a typical wildly conspiratorial thinking to Israel’s role in Syria.

The Der Spiegel online magazine columnist Jakob Augstein, who previously blamed Israel for the post-Arab Spring violence in Libya, Sudan, and Yemen, quoted Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu as saying that “Israel has its finger on the trigger” in the Syria conflict, suggesting Israel controls the contours — and outcome — of the Syrian civil war.

In fact, Netanyahu’s correct statement was “Our finger must always be on the pulse. Ours is a responsible finger and if necessary, it will also be on the trigger. We will always know to defend our people and our state against whoever attacks us, tries to attack us or has attacked us.”

Herr Augstein almost gives Germany a bad name, doesn’t he?

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Medical Privacy


The check’s in the mail… and your patients can keep you!

Two months before enrollment began in the Obamacare exchanges, the administration’s top health care official heaped praise on WebMD for launching an online resource to help Americans navigate the complex law.

The consumer health care site had the occasional nice thing to say about Obamacare, too. In one article, it predicted doctors might pick up more patients and crowed in an article titled “7 Surprising Things About the Affordable Care Act” that many consumers already had received insurance refunds under the law.

But what neither Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius nor WebMD mentioned at the time was that the company, which millions of Americans regularly read for health news, also stood to earn millions of dollars from a federal contract to teach doctors about Obamacare.

The contract documents, reviewed by The Washington Times, reward WebMD handsomely.

WebMD says it doesn’t believe it had an obligation to disclose to its broad consumer base its $4.8 million contract with the government.

You can see the lumps from the wads of cash stuffed inside the pockets of the White House-provided lab coats. Don’t spend all thirty pieces of silver in one place!

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