Way before most people in the world had even heard the word “coronavirus,” the staff at Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center were getting trained on what to do in case the pandemic made it to Israel. This week on The Times of Israel Podcast, Nurse Zippy Goodman explains how her hospital took swift, start-up measures to meet immediate needs as COVID-19 began infecting the Holy Land.
“At all times we felt protected,” said Goodman. “We always knew about biological — be it warfare or illnesses — and we always had them as something on a low burner. So the information that was in the back of our minds, or was theoretical, became a reality,” she said.
“It was really unimaginable,” she said, as afflicted elderly Israelis began pouring into the emergency room. “I kept on asking myself, why is it different than our regular day to day work… What is this corona thing that we’re all afraid of? But it definitely changed things completely, emotionally, it was different,” said Goodman.
Goodman, who was raised in Israel by American immigrants to Israel, describes the multi-step process of dressing for each patient, which involves multiple pairs of gloves, layers of clothing, and two types of face gear. She emphasizes that each time she treats a new patient, she must take off the gear and replace it with fresh, sterilized items.
“Each interaction with a patient is separate [robing procedure] because I work in an emergency room biological setting. I don’t know if these patients are ill with the coronavirus. Maybe a person in bed 75 is, but the person in bed 74 isn’t. They’re separated, but I walk between these two patients and every single time I have any kind of interaction with the patient, I’m wearing new gear,” she said.
Even as Israel is relaxing its social distancing measures, Goodman describes a reality that is still not out of reach.
“Each case that came in was dramatic,” she said.
Also this week in Times of Israel Podcasts:
Noam Shuster was having her dream year on a fellowship at Harvard when corona shut down her world. The Israeli comedian, 33, flew back home to her Jewish-Arab coexistence community near Jerusalem and, on the way, contracted what became a severe case of COVID-19. Listen to the story of her stint in the hospital followed by a stay in a “corona hotel” where she was shocked and awed to find a microcosm of Israel’s fractious society — Arabs, Jews, religious, secular, young and old — bound together by a shared cough.