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Mitzi’s Adventure with Israeli Healthcare

July 12, 2012

Much of the drama on the trip surrounded a health scare of one of the participants, Mitzi Gramling. Mitzi was involved in a serious ATV accident just weeks before we departed, suffering eight broken ribs, two broken vertebrae, and a broken collarbone. But the trip was important to Mitzi due to her position as the St. Paul chair for Partnership 2000, so, accompanied by her husband Rich, she bravely made the journey.

Unfortunately, Mitz fell ill a few days into the trip, and it became a serious enough situation that she had to go to urgent care and eventually a hospital in Israel, where she was diagnosed with gastroenteritis.

“When we got to Jerusalem, I was doing very poorly,” Mitzi said. “For me it was like the worst stomach flu you’ve ever had times ten.”

Rich took Mitzi to a “drab” urgent care center, where she said the treatment she received sometimes made her uncomfortable.

“They ran no tests, asked very few questions, and decided I needed IV solution,” she said. “They didn’t really have a place for me to lie down so they could give me an IV solution, and this was a professional urgent care center. The table that I lied down on was literally in an office with pictures of her children. It wasn’t like it was a room for pediatric patients, it was a doctor’s office with her personal belongings in it. So it was very uncomfortable.”

Mitzi said that the actual care she received was appropriate, but that the center didn’t treat its patients as well as they do back at home in St. Paul, and that at times she was concerned about the sanitary conditions. Her health worsened the next day, so she was taken to Hadassah Women’s Hospital, where she had a similar experience.

“I was feeling very ill,” she said. “Rich signed me in. I went to an area where there were chairs. I wasn’t there for long when I felt like I really needed to lie down. I went to the desk by the chairs, and asked if I could lie down, and the woman at the desk kind of screamed at me, ‘What are you doing here, what do you want?’ So that was my first introduction to customer service at Haddasah hospital.”

Eventually she was taken back to an area with a bed, which was simply a large room, unlike American hospitals which have many different rooms. In the middle of the room, there was a medical cart, which was unguarded, something that concerned Mitzi because anyone could just grab anything from the cart. And while the beds at the hospital were more comfortable than urgent care, the doctor-patient contact was still a concern.

“I never knew who a doctor was or who a nurse was, or who was interviewing me,” Mitzi said. “They are very low on smiles. I never knew who was treating me.”

Rabbi Spilker visited Mitzi in the hospital, where he attempted to get her food only to find that the cafeteria was closed. He was able to go to the front desk and, in Hebrew, request some food, and they received a “minimal tray with a small thing of yogurt.” Once again, Mitzi said that the care was fine, but that the customer service was poor or even non-existent. Overall, she describes a health care system that takes care of its patients, but in more of a hands-off, no frills way than we’re accustomed to in the states.

Mitzi’s strength to even go on the trip in the first place after the accident was commendable, and we were all inspired by her strength during the battle she had to face in Israel.

““The rest of us that were traveling companions would ask questions all through the day about how Mitzih and Rich were doing and missed them,” Batya said.

Fortunately, Mitzi recovered enough to join us on the final part of the trip, and she tearfully thanked everyone for their support at the final dinner. She was able to fly home safely, on schedule and in good health.

– Josh


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