News and Events

IDF Chief of Staff: Our Connection with Rambam is Extraordinary

Publication Date: 10/21/2020 10:30 AM

The IDF’s Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Aviv Kochavi, visited Rambam Health Care Campus to learn first-hand about the hospital’s COVID-19 treatment center.

(L) Chief of Staff Kochavi and (R) Dr. Michael Halberthal in Rambam’s COVID-19 command center.
 Photography: Rambam HCC.(L) Chief of Staff Kochavi and (R) Dr. Michael Halberthal in Rambam’s COVID-19 command center. Photography: Rambam HCC.

Lieutenant General Aviv Kochavi, the IDF Chief of Staff, toured Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa earlier today. Lieutenant General Kochavi put on full personal protective equipment and descended into the Sammy Ofer Fortified Underground Emergency Hospital, which currently serves as the largest COVID-19 patient treatment center in Israel. Dr. Michael Halberthal, Rambam's General Director, accompanied Lieutenant General Kochavi and presented the capabilities of the unique facility, which can hold up to 770 COVID-19 patients in the event of a severe outbreak of the virus in the northern region.

Dr. Halberthal and Lieutenant General Kochavi visited various departments in the underground hospital, which now houses 50 patients – half of whom are in critical condition, sedated and on ventilators. The Chief of Staff was most interested in the IDF1 Department – the COVID-19 department established by the IDF within Rambam's coronavirus facility. This marks the first time in the 72 years since the State of Israel’s founding that the IDF has activated officers who are doctors in a civilian hospital. The Chief of Staff spoke with the military doctors who work in the IDF department, which treats civilians from all sectors in Israel – Jews, Christians, Muslims, Druze, and more. These military doctors told Lieutenant General Kochavi about the special training they underwent to get used to the working conditions in the underground hospital, and about the experience they are gaining in treating civilians.

After visiting the underground facility, the Chief of Staff visited Rambam’s special command center from which the COVID-19 departments are supervised. Speaking to journalists there, he summed up his impressions. “On the way to Rambam, I thought about the fact that the hospital, during its 80 years of existence, has saved the lives of tens of thousands of soldiers. We, the IDF commanders, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. I am happy about this exceptional connection and the cooperation between the IDF and Rambam,” noted Lieutenant General Kochavi.

Dr. Halberthal concluded, “There is no doubt that having the Medical Corps working with us shoulder to shoulder at Rambam is a groundbreaking event in Israel. We are able, as a strategic facility, to give peace of mind to the State of Israel.”

Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi speaks with COVID-19 patient Yaakov Artzi
in the IDF1 Department, located in Rambam’s
Sammy Ofer Fortified Underground Emergency Hospital.

(Middle L) Chief of Staff Kochavi with (R) Dr. Michael Halberthal at Rambam.