A School within a Hospital
21 February 2018
What happens when a child is too unwell to attend school?
Shaare Zedek Medical Centre, Jerusalem’s Hospital with a Heart has a characteristically innovative and compassionate solution.
The philosophy that drives Shaare Zedek’s Lincoln David Abraham Educational Institute is that when the children can’t get to school, the school comes to them within a hospital setting.
The Educational Institute at Shaare Zedek is registered as a school with Israel’s Ministry of Education. Shaare Zedek works to do everything possible to ensure that young children who are hospitalized for extended periods do not fall behind in their studies.
Teachers at the hospital remain in touch with the students’ schools and share coursework and tests so that when the student leaves the hospital they are best prepared to return to their regular schools with minimal interruption.
Yet, because of the unique nature of the students and the emotional and practical pressures under which they are required to study, Shaare Zedek staff endeavor to make this far more than just a traditional school.
Some young patients have limited mobility or are not able to get out of bed. In those instances, volunteers and staff members come to them.
A regular volunteer in the Educational Institute is Australian Friends of Shaare Zedek board member, Zvica Ledder. Zvica’s son Dr Oren Ledder works at Shaare Zedek as a paediatric gastroenterologist and hepatologist.
Zvica works in the various therapy programs at Shaare Zedek’s Educational Institute. These therapies are integrated into the learning and healing process. Zvica thoroughly enjoys his time working with young patients.
Zvica says, “At Shaare Zedek’s educational institute we have an origami group, a group of young engineers, a robotics group, music class, and so much more. There are 19 staff members in the school, including teachers, kindergarten teachers and emotional therapists who specialize in music. It’s a beautiful place to work.”
Young patients can develop a love of music and singing in the Music Therapy room. There are many instances of patients who have required extended stays in the hospital, such as children on dialysis who were able to hone remarkable musical talents through the Music Therapy program.
The Pet Therapy Service is also a part of Shaare Zedek’s Educational Institute and this is a program like few others in Israel, and even the world. Shaare Zedek was the first general hospital in Israel to adopt a program in Animal Assisted Therapy also known as Zoo Therapy or Pet Therapy.
By connecting to animals, children can learn skills of compassion and healing. The animals are sometimes used as educational devices where children with specific diseases learn about anatomy and fighting disease with pets that are facing similar struggles.
This was the case with a friendly “diabetic hamster” whose ability to overcome illness served as a comfort and inspiration for small children coping with that same disease.
Zvica says, “I look forward to my weekly sessions at Shaare Zedek’s Children’s Hospital. I am proud of my son Oren’s work there, and really enjoy my interactions with the young patients at the hospital’s school. “