COVID-19 patients at Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa are now being hospitalised in the Sammy Ofer Fortified Underground Emergency Hospital, which opened on 24 September for the first time since its completion in 2014. Located 16.5 metres below ground level, the dedicated coronavirus treatment centre will contain 770 beds, including 170 for patients on ventilators.
The facility is a fully-equipped hospital, containing an emergency room, operating theatres, an intensive care unit, three coronavirus departments, a paediatrics area, a delivery room, and a dialysis treatment area.
Dr Michael Halberthal, Rambam’s General Director, said: “We have invested a great deal of time and effort in this project, while hoping that we would never be forced to reach this point.”
Rambam began preparing the infrastructure during the first wave of the pandemic, following a request by Israel’s Ministry of Health. The underground hospital was built to be used during biological, chemical, and conventional attacks, protecting those inside from above-ground threats and contamination. Repurposing the hospital for use as a COVID-19 facility required the planners to alter its infrastructure to keep the area outside safe from the virus within.
Dr Halberthal said: “Rambam is world-renowned for its expertise in trauma and mass-casualty situations, and our experience in successfully handling these scenarios has helped to ensure our readiness for the current national emergency. We believe this situation will remain through the winter.”
Established in 1938, Rambam Health Care Campus is a 1,000-bed teaching hospital with a diverse patient population. The only tertiary referral medical centre serving the two million residents of Northern Israel, Rambam also treats patients referred from throughout Israel, the Mediterranean region, and around the world.