News and Events

When Friends Come Together for a Joint Mission

Publication Date: 5/13/2020 10:00 AM

ISCAR, one of Rambam's major supporters, provided an innovative solution for the hospital’s ventilator shortage during the COVID-19 crisis.

An Air Force’s 108 unit member repairing one of Rambam's ventilators. Photography: Courtesy of Rambam HCC.An Air Force’s 108 unit member repairing one of Rambam's ventilators. Photography: Courtesy of Rambam HCC.

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Operations and Maintenance at Rambam Health Care Campus discovered that seven of the hospital’s 125 ventilators were faulty. Given the restrictions in place as well as the current global shortage for this critical piece of equipment, they were unable to find either a company or country that was willing to fix them.

While Mossad agents were carrying out covert missions to purchase ventilators to bring back to Israel and hi-tech companies were trying to create improvised ventilators, Israeli company ISCAR—known internationally for its manufacturing of carbide cutting tools for the Metalworking industry —reached out to Rambam to find out how it could help the hospital in its battle against COVID-19, in addition to providing a significant donation. The company has been one of Rambam’s staunchest supporters for years.

Recalls Dr. Esty Golan, Rambam’s Managing Director of International Relations and Chief of Strategic Development, “When Jacob Harpaz, IMC Group (ISCAR) President and Chairman of the Board and 2019 Rambam Award winner, offered his assistance, I told him about the faulty ventilators.” Mr. Harpaz spoke with company CFO Mr. Ronen Zisser, who offered to create a production line to build new machines. When the company realized that it would be unable to do so in a timely manner, they offered to fix the broken ventilators.

When Dvir Meiri, ISCAR’s department manager of Specialized Technologies, examined the machines, however, he determined that it would take too long to fix them. Understanding the importance of repairing the ventilators, he came up with an “out-of-the-box” idea – approaching the Air Force, where his brother was a senior engineer, holding the rank of Colonel.

“An extraordinary opportunity presented itself in the form of a collaboration between the hospital, ISCAR, and Israel’s Air Force,” notes Dr. Golan. The Air Force’s 108 unit, which specializes in the maintenance and repair of sensitive equipment, took charge. Within a few days, they were able to pinpoint the problem and fix the ventilators. In the end, the unit was able to fix six out of the seven devices.

The staff from the Department of Operations and Maintenance could not believe their eyes. Against all odds, six precious ventilators—which are critical for the treatment of COVID-19 patients and had previously been tagged as defective—were all restored to perfect working condition.