Hadassah then and now

Rothschild hands the management of his hospital to Hadassah (PHG\1017399)The Hadassah Organization and its hospitals are going through a crisis that is being extensively covered by the media these days. The Hadassah hospitals have been an integral part of Jerusalem since they were founded. Hadassah was established by a group of Zionist women from New York who wished to promote public health in Palestine. The first Hadassah hospital opened in 1918, in the building of the Meir Rothschild Hospital which had been founded by the Baron Rothschild. That hospital encountered difficulties during World War I. Rothschild handed over the management of the hospital to Hadassah and also helped in the renovation of the building.
The wide ranging archive of Hadassah is kept at the CZA and includes documentation about the hospitals that it runs. Various documents from the 1920’s and 1930’s show the importance of the hospital in the life of the Yishuv. Hadassah reports describe a steady increase in the number of patients arriving at the hospital. Other documents describe the hospital’s help in healing and preventing diseases which were common at the time, such as trachoma and malaria. The hospital also functioned in the fields of pediatrics and infants, alongside the “Mother and Child” stations of Hadassah. Their joint action lowered infant mortality and childhood diseases.
Tha cornerstone ceremony for the new building (NZO\631420)During the 1930’s it turned out that the Meir Rothschild hospital building was not big enough for the needs of the city which had begun to expand and grow. The hospital functioned in various buildings around the city; each one provided different medical services. Hadassah decided to establish a new building that would house all the various departments. A cornerstone ceremony for the building was held in 1934, and it was opened to the public in 1939. Jerusalem had received a modern hospital that could absorb many patients and treat them with modern equipment and a trained staff. A nursing school and research institutes were also opened at the hospital. Important figures from Arab countries came to Palestine to be treated at the innovative hospital, that came to be acknowledged as the most advanced hospital in the Middle East.