News and Events

Rambam’s Medical “Superhero” Fights on Two Fronts

Publication Date: 11/9/2023 8:00 AM

When war broke out on October 7, 2023, many of the medical staff at Rambam Health Care Campus (Rambam) in Haifa, Israel were called up for active duty. Dr. Yotam Shkedy, was called to the IDF reserves as a brigade medical officer. In addition to his military duties, Shkedy continues to perform urgent surgeries for patients at Rambam.

Dr. Yotam Shkedy (L) at Rambam and (R) in the field. Photography: Rambam HCC.Dr. Yotam Shkedy (L) at Rambam and (R) in the field. Photography: Rambam HCC.

Dr. Yotam Shkedy, director of the Head and Neck Surgery Unit in Rambam’s Department of Ear, Nose & Throat, Head & Neck Surgery, is dividing his time between medical and military duties in the Armored Corps. “The transition from civilian doctor to military officer is strange, like two worlds that exist parallel with each other. In the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), the mindset is completely different: orders and drills. Then when I take off my military uniform and begin my shift at the hospital, everything changes. Sometimes, it takes me a few moments to reset,” comments Shkedy. “The challenge primarily relates to being available to consult about different patient issues remotely. I am transparent with my patients. I don’t like explaining that I am unable to be with them when they awaken after surgery however they all completely understand.” Nevertheless, he finds it difficult to be torn between his patients and his fellow soldiers – he is needed by both.

Although it’s not an ideal situation, Shkedy reflects on how fortunate he is to be available to both his patients and his fellow soldiers. His schedule is demanding. Running back and forth between his army base and Rambam, Shkedy rarely makes it home to his family. “In the little spare time I have, I try to jump home to see my family. But if I am not on duty at Rambam on Shabbat, I usually stay at the base. My fellow soldiers cover for me and I want to return the favor.”

Shkedy’s greatest difficulties relate to his inability to be there for his patients post-surgery, as well as surgeries being postponed since, in the current situation, they are not defined as urgent. He explains that one of his patients had served in the army for several years. He had been scheduled for surgery but it was postponed due to the war. “Of course he understood,” Shkedy say, “but it’s hard for me.”

Shkedy concludes, “We all understand why we are here. The spirit of unity being displayed, despite the very challenging events of the past month, is exciting to see. It is heartwarming to see how, at the moment of truth, everyone puts their differences aside to help each other. I hope things will return to normal soon. We all want to return to our regular routines and safe lives. Whatever the circumstances, in war or peace, we are committed to the welfare of our patients.”