Ziv Hospital, Zefat. The nurse had just told me that we needed to stay another night. A long and challenging week was behind us, and I was eager to go home.
It was Shabbat, our room was buzzing with people. (we were 3 mothers in a relatively small room). There were grandmas and grandpas, soldiers, children of all ages, aunts, and uncles. They were all expressing their joy for the new family member. Everyone at once.
Hummus with way too much garlic was opened, it burned in my nose. Children were running in and out of the room, and the sound level was at least above 80 dB. Ariel had gone home to get some things I needed. I sat with my little boy in my arms, and I couldn’t stop crying. What was I doing here in this crazy country?
Suddenly there’s music coming from the hallway. I take Sela with me to see what’s going on. In the hallway, an Orthodox Jewish band is playing traditional Jewish songs. Families and visitors come out from the rooms, followed by the mothers (who had given birth not so long ago), and they were all dancing, clapping and singing together.
Ariel comes out from the elevator, and can’t believe his own eyes. The view that meets him, a dancing Orthodox music band is playing in the hallways of the maternity department, dancing mothers and his wife is standing in a corner, all red-eyed and in shock. Later I ask one of the nurses why they allow bands in the hospital. She explained that for Israelis, a new baby brings hope for a brighter future. It is a celebration of life and for the freedom of the people of Israel.
We shared the news that we were moving to Israel, around the same time as we told friends and family that we were going to be parents. I remember being asked: “Are your plans to move postponed?” and “Don’t you want your child to grow up in a country with good health services and safe hospitals?”.
At the Ziv Hospital in Zefat, I experienced the same standards as hospitals in Norway and Denmark. Clean bright hallways, caring nurses, young and skilled doctors, well-kept equipment, fresh and tasty cafeteria food. The protocols the nurses had, made me feel safe. During a day, I would be asked 5-6 times about what was in Sela’s diapers, when he last had eaten and my answers were written down. Even though Sela was the one who was sick, my blood pressure was checked every day.
The nurses were warm and sincerely caring. Although, we did have some challenges. Their lack of English knowledge made every day very interesting. A few of them only knew how to ask “How are you feeling”, and “Is everything okay?”, and numbers of times the nurse who came to check on me had to leave again because we could not understand each other. I, therefore, preferred to google my way through the questions that I had, instead of asking the nurses.
The limited possibilities we had to communicate with the staff, made the birth process quite stress full. Ariel had to translate most of the time, but not knowing much technical hospital words in Hebrew, situations often got very complicated and stress full. I’m not sure who of us worked the hardest, me or Ariel. But Sela arrived in the end, and we can look back and laugh at it now.
We also experienced that some nurses had some old-fashioned and outdated opinions about certain conditions. Sela had jaundice and I had done a quick google search and learned that sunlight would help. We, therefore, decided to bring Sela out in the hallway, by the big windows.
While standing there, an elderly Israeli-Russian nurse walks up to us and ask us why we were standing there with our baby. Ariel explains, and she firmly replies that sunlight will have no effect and that we should go back to our room. Ariel smiles at me and thanked the nurse for her advice.
But after taking everything into consideration, looking back, I had a very good start of motherhood and I am very thankful for the workers at the maternity department in Ziv Hospital. You could sense the good relationship the staff had between each other. It was contagious, and it made you feel like home. I would take Sela for a walk in the hallways, and several nurses who walked by would ask me if I had had something to eat, how I was feeling and if I needed something. I felt surrounded my mothers and grandmothers that had deep respect and care for me.
The health systems
In Israel, you have four official health insurance organizations, known as Kupat Holim. Every citizen has the right to be a member in one of these organizations, and to receive basic health care. Through the Kupat Holim, you are assigned a family doctor. In every organization, you can choose to pay for additional services and insurances that will cover a wider area of surgeries and medication.
Tipat Chalav is a health service for children and pregnant women. Sela has had excellent monitoring from both doctors and nurses. He has continuously received follow-ups, and he has gotten all the vaccines that he needs. When he has needed a doctor, we would be scheduled for an appointment the same day or the next, and we had follow-up phone calls from the doctor.
Israel’s health system was ranked as number 7 out of 51 countries, in terms of efficiency. Israel is also ranked as the ninth healthiest country in the world, according to the Bloomberg Global Health Index.
I am thankful that Sela gets to grow up in a country with one of the worlds best health care systems and where life expectancy is 82 years. The health system in Israel is technically advanced and of high quality, and I think it is astonishing how this front-runner country manages to be miles and miles ahead of its neighbor countries.