Physicians from Rambam's Ruth Rappaport Children's Hospital recently traveled to Tbilisi, Georgia. Children suffering from complex health problems benefitted from their expertise.
Over a period of five days, a team of doctors from Rambam Health Care Campus, comprised of pediatric surgeons, ICU physicians and anesthesiologists, worked in Tbilsi as part of a unique collaboration initiated a few years ago by the Georgian government to advance medical proficiency there. The five-year-old project, hailed by the President of Georgia, provides support for the Pediatric Surgery Department of the University Pediatric Hospital in Tbilisi, Givi Zhvania, via its parallel department at Rambam.
The collaboration between the two hospitals includes a visit to Georgia twice a year by Rambam physicians. During their visit they they deal with difficult and complex cases which the local medical staff are unable to treat or for which treatment has failed. "On the day we arrive, the doctors show us the caseload from their own hospital and from other hospitals, as well," explains Dr. Ran Steinberg, Director of the Department of Pediatric Surgery and who leads the collaboration from Rambam's side. "They give us the information we need. From then on, our days are long—performing surgical procedures on as many children as possible in two operating rooms. The patients have complex, and sometimes challenging, medical conditions, and we are there to help as many children as possible."
Over the years, Rambam's staff has "accumulated" a fairly large group of patients at the Georgian hospital. “When we are there, we also take the opportunity to examine our previous patients and assess their current status. Even when we're not there, we're always at the ready," comments Dr. Steinberg, "Our ties with the Georgian staff remain close throughout the year with ongoing consultations concerning the patients we treated as well as new cases."
One of the physicians appointed to the Georgian team is Dr. Arcady Vachyan, Director of the Minimally Invasive Surgery Unit in the Ruth Rappaport Children's Hospital. Born and raised in Tbilisi, many years have passed since he immigrated to Israel as a young doctor; now he has returned to the city of his birth as an experienced physician in his chosen specialty in order to operate on local patients and train hospital physicians working in the area. "I am moved by the encounter each time," Dr. Vachyan shares.
The collaboration between Rambam's Department of Pediatric Surgery and the Tbilisi department has aroused the interest of Georgian officials. About two years ago the Israel team was invited to the presidential palace for an official visit. Since then, the physicians have met with the Georgian Minister of Health and the Israeli ambassador to Georgia, who came to show his support for the doctors. "There is no doubt in my mind that they view this as a very important relationship," Dr. Steinberg sums up, "The hospital teams there get the chance to observe the most advanced treatments and learn from us how to implement them. We are very motivated to assist with anything and inspired every time we see the results on the ground."