A Shared Past
The Bnai Zion Medical Center, a regional medical care facility, has been treating the population of Haifa and Northern Israel, Jews, Druze, Muslim and Christian Arabs and Baha'is alike for nearly 90 years. Its history must be told along with the history of Haifa because they are so closely intertwined.
Haifa's First Jewish Hospital 1922 - 1932
When established in 1922 by the Hadassah Medical Organization, the facility was the first and only Jewish hospital in the city. Its beginning was modest: 36 beds in a rented building.
Ten years later, according to plan, the hospital was turned over to the Haifa Jewish Community Administration. Funds were scarce, however, since no assistance was received either from the British Mandatory Governmentt of Palestine or from abroad.
Expansion Begins 1942
Population growth and its resulting demand for medical services motivated construction of a new building in 1942. The hospital became known as the Rothschild Hospital, in honor of the family that had donated the land and funds for its construction. It included 85 beds, three departments and a laboratory.
In 1946 the school of nursing was opened. The rented space was thus freed to serve as a Maternity Ward and in times of heightened need, a center for additional services. These included caring for illegal immigrants who continued to bypass the British Port Authority at the Haifa Port. Being the only Jewish hospital in the city, it also treated the wounded of the underground organizations, Haganah, Etzel and Lechi.
Independence and Immigration 1948 - 1967
During the War of Independence, the Rothschild Hospital was the only medical facility in Haifa available to treat the wounded and infirm Jewish population and soldiers. In 1949 management of the Rothschild Hospital was turned over to the Haifa Municipality. Another floor was soon added in order to relieve crowded conditions by increasing the number of beds. Gradually, the hospital developed into an internationally famous institute of medicine, providing modern services and equipment for what had become by 1967 a 330 bed hospital. It was then transferred to a joint government-municipal ownership.
In 1966 the government took over financing municipal hospitals.
In 1975 the hospital was transferred to governmental ownership, and today, the employees are employed by the municipality.
Since the establishment of the Faculty of Medicine at the Technion (Israel Institute of Technology) in 1969, the hospital has been affiliated with it and functions as a university teaching hospital.
Planning the West Wing 1972
In 1972 overcrowded conditions that were becoming increasingly detrimental to the patients' welfare, as well as the desire to implement new medical techniques, led to the decision to expand the hospital's facilities and establish a new wing that would double the facility's size.
The cornerstone of the new west wing was laid in 1973. Unfortunately, a few days after work had begun, the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War halted all construction.
In addition, the high inflation rate and immense defense budget resulted in a severe economic recession in Israel and forced the government to significantly reduce its aid to public institutions, including hospitals.
Despite the setbacks the first stage was completed in 1978. Only in 1982 the Emergency Room was reopened and in 1984 the first department, Orthopedics, was transferred to its new location in the west wing. In 1985 completing the emergency floor construction was stopped due to a lack of funds.
Hospital Renamed Bnai Zion Medical Center 1988
In 1987 the Bnai Zion Foundation (USA) made a commitment to raise the necessary funds for the completion of the west wing project. In October 1988 the hospital was renamed the Bnai Zion Medical Center in honor of Bnai Zion's 80th anniversary. Since then most of the clinical departments, laboratories and facilities have gradually moved into the new west wing.
Because of the medical center's high standards and the excellence of its service and staff, it has been designated an official military hospital for the State of Israel.
In several surveys conducted by the Israel's Health Insurance companies the
Bnai Zion Medical Center was voted the leading medical facility in Northern Israel. Patients have praised the medical staff's professionalism, admission procedures and bedside manners, and recognize the Bnai Zion Medical Center as one of Israel's most outstanding hospitals.
The hospital has won the highly regarded "Eretz Yisrael Yaffa" ("Beautiful Israel") Award every year for the past few years. This honor reflects several criteria, including cleanliness and the staff's consideration of and sensitivity to the needs of the patients and their families.
Into the Future
In order to maintain its leadership position on the vanguard of Israeli medical care, the Bnai Zion Medical Center has undertaken an aggressive strategy of continuing growth. This will be accomplished through a carefully planned building and departmental renovation, made possible in large part through the ongoing support of people like you.