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Giving them a fighting chance

“We talk without using words.” That’s how the trauma team works, according to Dr. Itay Zoarets, Director of the Trauma Unit at Assuta Ashdod. With just seconds to make life saving decisions, Dr. Zoarets emphasizes the necessity for cooperation and collaboration when a trauma patient arrives.

As soon as the call comes in from Magen David Adom (MDA), the team is notified and gathers in the trauma bay, within minutes, to await the patient.

And so it was last December when a 37-year-old woman 36-37 weeks pregnant arrived following a severe car accident. With trauma to her head, chest and abdomen and in an advanced stage of pregnancy, they had to evaluate her condition quickly.

“Even though I’m not such a pretty face, I’m the face of the trauma ward at Assuta Ashdod, comments Dr. Zoarets. “I’m in charge, but really, it’s the trauma team who make it happen.” In this case, a surgeon, anesthesiologist, gynecologist and neonatal specialist raced to the trauma bay. After a fast evaluation, they started fluid and resuscitation. The gynecologist diagnosed fetal distress.

The team had to decide whether to continue doing diagnostics (like a CT scan) or go ahead with an immediate C-section. They skipped the diagnostics and rushed the injured woman to the OR where the gynecological team performed an emergency C-section. The baby was born in severe distress, but the neonatal specialists were able to successfully resuscitate him.

While her abdomen was opened up, the doctors were able to check for internal trauma, eliminating the need for a CT scan.

Miraculously, the mother and her baby were released six days later, both in stable condition.

But before Assuta Ashdod opened, injured patients had to travel 14-25 minutes by ambulance to another hospital outside the area. In those days, many trauma patients did not survive.

“We have saved many lives in the last four and a half years that otherwise wouldn’t have stood the trip to another hospital.”

Dr. Itay Zoarets worked as a surgeon in the army for 15 years. He came to Assuta Ashdod when it first opened after working as the head of the Trauma Unit at Sheba Medical Center.

“At first, it was a huge challenge. I came only two months after the hospital opened to the public. The department had to be built from scratch.”

And Dr. Zoarets is proud of what they built.

“We’re like a family. Everyone wants to help each other because we’re all in the same boat. It’s kind of like building a campsite with the scouts.”

Recently, following an inspection, the Assuta Ashdod Trauma Unit received official recognition as a leading regional trauma center and was also recognized nationally as a trauma unit working at international standards. According to Dr. Zoarets, Assuta Ashdod’s patient outcomes are equivalent to those of long-standing hospitals in Israel including Level 1 trauma centers.

“I do believe with all my heart that we are saving lives here.”

Dr. Zoarets's job does not stop when he finishes his shift. He recently joined MDA as a volunteer during his off-hours.

“As a doctor, I see it as my duty to be a part of MDA, and to help patients in the field,” he says. “As a part of the cooperation between MDA and Assuta Ashdod, my volunteering adds value to our relationship, which ultimately benefits the patients." With a physician’s bag in his car, he’s prepared to intervene and help others even when he’s on vacation.

Because for Dr. Zoaretz, saving lives is 24/7.


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