The name “Rambam” was only applied to Rambam Health Care Campus in 1952 However, Rambam’s history pre-dates the modern State of Israel.
Few people know that our history began with the laying of a cornerstone for a small Catholic convent in 1888. That building, “the Stone House,” is still used by Rambam Health Care Campus today. It transitioned from a convent, to an Ottoman military hospital, and back to a convent. The Stone House was later abandoned, and was eventually sold to the State of Israel in 1961. It was renovated and administrative offices and various medical services operate within its walls.
When the British received the Mandate for the Land of Israel, they originally considered using the Stone House for a hospital, with the impending threat of war in Europe, a larger building that could withstand the threat of war was needed. The Mandatory government therefore constructed what they termed, “The finest medical institution in the Middle East.” The 225 bed hospital was designed by the celebrated Bauhaus architect, Erich Mendelsohn, on the shore of Haifa Bay. Dedicated in 1938—today the building holds several of Rambam’s specialty clinics and medical wards.
From the beginning, Rambam had a multi-ethnic staff whose focus was their patients—even then—race or creed was a non-issue! In addition, Rambam’s involvement with medical research reaches back to the 1940’s. In fact, clinician/researchers became famous for their treatment of infectious diseases and were able to prevent a serious outbreak of bubonic plague!
When we talk about our broad experience with trauma and mass casualty situations, that experience too dates back to the hospital’s origins. In 1939 it was Rambam that cared for hundreds of Arabs wounded by an explosion in Haifa’s Arab market. Likewise, hundreds of Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazis were treated at Rambam, when their ships were besieged by the British in the attempt to prevent them from seeking refuge in Israel. Rambam’s staff helped saved the lives of many of these refugees by helping them escape into Israel—at great risk to themselves.
With the birth of the modern State of Israel, Rambam was turned over to the new government and became a government hospital serving soldiers as well as the civilians of Haifa.
Today, Rambam Health Care Campus continues to live the same ideals for patient-oriented care based on real research to meet on-going needs. Israel’s wounded still find healing within our walls, and patients suffering terrible health problems find compassion and safety. Not a lot has changed, except for the new advances in medicine which are saving lives that would have been lost 100 years ago.