On the frontline of the health services in PRCS’s hospital: the neuralgic center of the organization’s activities in East Jerusalem
Simon Delmore – PRCS Volunteer
Traffic is light on this Thursday afternoon in Jerusalem. We are driving in one of the city’s old Palestinian neighborhood. Shops are opened; children wander around in the streets while adults hurry their paces between work and home.
Most habitations in Al Suwana neighborhood bear certain uniformity with their stones-made foundations, several storeys and aesthetic look. However, the place we are going is a bit different as it features a non negligible Red Crescent emblem on one of its facades. It is the home of the Palestine Red Crescent Society’s hospital in Jerusalem.
Established in 1953, the PRCS hospital is one of the leading institutions in maternity and gynecology sectors in the Palestine Territory. While initially located in the old city, the hospital has moved to East Jerusalem in an ancient hotel building in 1995.
At our arrival, we met with Mahmud Elayyan, the administrative director. In perfect English, he details the expansion of activities the hospital has undergone in the past decades. In addition to the maternity, gynecology, dentistry and pediatric clinic, the hospital has a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and 24 hour laboratory and X-ray services. Part of the hospital work is also to conduct hearing, eye and skills tests as well as free-of-charge vaccination for children and adults.
Mr. Elayyan took the time to discuss the increasing importance of the institution in the East Jerusalem network of hospitals. The hospital’s area of service encompasses the inhabitants of East Jerusalem, foreign workers, dwellers living in villages located in area “C” such as Abu Deis and Al Aziriah and people living in the West Bank necessitating special care. In the past decade, average patient deliveries per month have increased from 200 to more than 300 in peak time. With its total capacity of 40 beds and a staff of 200, Mr. Elayyan proudly asserts that the hospital has assisted more than 150,000 patients and pregnant women in their recovery since 1953.
Apart of its traditional healthcare provider function, the hospital is also the Headquarter of the PRCS for East Jerusalem. This entails Mr. Elayyan is also the administrative manager of the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) station and the maternity clinic located in the old city. He told part of his work is to ensure the maximum coordination and cohesion of PCRS related facilities in East Jerusalem.
A work that would be hard to fulfill in the future, with the Israel government’s intention to take over the building and include the area in a new settlement, right in the middle of an Palestinian neighborhood. Meanwhile, for the moment, those worries are far from Mr. Elayyan and his staff’s mind as the focus is on the continual provision of medical care to a population that greatly need PRCS services.
Mrs. Nadira Basheeti is a mother of two children and a PRCS hospital employee. Her works at the hospital is the sole income her family has following the severe illness her husband suffers from. As Mrs. Basheeti lives in “area C” she needs to have a permit delivered by Israeli authorities in order to work in Jerusalem. Unfortunately, on Nakba protest, one of her son (14 years old) was caught throwing stones at Israeli soldiers. In the following days, the Israeli state revoked Mrs. Basheeti’s permit hence hindering her from accessing Jerusalem and working. The PRCS along with partners such as the ICRC and Physicians for Human Right Watch are currently in negotiation with the government to allow Mrs. Basheeti access to Jerusalem.