Donate Now!

Making Medical Services Accessible

Making Medical Services Accessible to People with Disabilities

A Milestone Is Reached

On April 29, a seminar entitled "We're All Entitled to Service:  Making Medical Services Accessible to People with Disabilities" was held at the Hadassah Medical Center at Ein Kerem, in cooperation with the Henrietta Szold Nursing School at Hadassah.  The initiative behind the seminar came from IE's Academy of Training, Support & Guidance together with IE's Supported Living Services and Community Residential Services, and is one of a series of efforts being made to ensure the total accessibility of medical services for people with disabilities.

For nearly two years, IE and the Nursing School have been studying and enhancing their knowledge on various aspects of the important and complex dilemma of how medical services can be made more accessible for people with intellectual disabilities. 

Accessible service includes:

  1. Speaking directly with the patient at a pace and in language that gives him or her the opportunity to understand what is happening;
  2. Adapting waiting times and conditions for appointments and procedures;
  3. Understanding that symptoms may differ from those found in other patients; and
  4. Allowing the patient with a disability to become familiar with and meet with the same doctors and nurses each time.  

This joint effort by IE and the Nursing School has involved documenting IE's Supported Living Services' projects relating to this challenge, recording reports from residents of the Community Residential Services, parents and support providers about how the medical profession relates to them, and gathering information on this subject from sources worldwide.  Cooperation with the nursing and medical staff at Hadassah was deemed an important means to meeting this goal and efforts were made to understand what training is required to ensure that people with disabilities receive accessible service. 

Buy-In From Key Leaders

Over 150 professionals, mostly from the nursing and medical fields from all over Israel, participated in the seminar.  The day began with greetings from the Deputy Minister of Education, Knesset Member Zvi Wartzman; Dr. Yuval Weiss, Acting Director and Manager of Hadassah Medical Center at Ein Kerem; Professor Eran Leitsdorf, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine; Dr. Miri Rom, Director of the Hadassah School of Nursing; and Sarah Sadovnik, Chief Operating Officer of Israel Elwyn. The day's lecturers included the Commissioner for Equal Rights of People with Disabilities, Ministry of Justice; the Commissioner for Equal Rights of People with Disabilities, Ministry of Health; professional staff from the Hadassah School of Nursing; and staff from IE's Supported Living Services. 

Residents and Their Families Are Key Experts

Filmed interviews with Gabby Bachar, a resident in IE's Community Residential Services; Nina Mayorek, mother of Dudu Mayorek, who lives in IE's Supported Living Services; and Yusef Abid, a support provider in IE's Supported Living Services; all attested to the challenges that are encountered in the interface between the health system and its professionals and the person with an intellectual disability. 

  • Gabby wants any doctor he consults with to speak with him, not whoever accompanies him.  “I’ll tell the doctor sorry, not just with the support provider; also with me.  I also want to know about my illness.”  
  • Nina told of their experiences when Dudu needed an operation:  “When an individual with disabilities goes to the hospital, he should be given VIP certification.  These are people who need to be given special handling from the minute they enter.”  She explained that someone like Dudu can’t fast for hours at a time and can’t entertain himself with a book or newspaper like others. 
  • Yusef, who had accompanied a resident of IE's Supported Living Services to the hospital when the man was suffering agonizing pain, said that the staff wouldn’t listen to his explanations and did not provide the treatment needed within a reasonable period of time.

 The Seminar Has Immediate Impact

The seminar concluded with a panel of nursing and medical professionals addressing the question, "Where Do We Go From Here?" as they related to their own experiences, gave an assessment of the current situation and described their hopes for the future.  One of the doctors on the panel noted that his participation in preparations for the day's seminar, and in the seminar itself, had caused him to change.  He had begun to look for opportunities to face the challenge of providing accessible medical treatment and now understood the importance of shortening waiting times for patients with disabilities.  Previously, he doubted if the service provided to patients with disabilities who arrived at his neighborhood clinic without a companion met the person's needs, but he has found solutions, including through contact with the local social worker who knows his patients.  In summary, he believed that the difference between accessible and non-accessible medical service was one of good will and a readiness to stop and think about adapted solutions, and he feels he now serves as an "ambassador" for accessible service in his clinics in the hospital and the community.

Lets Connect

We'd love to hear from you! Also, please let us know in advance of your next trip to Israel and we will give you a tour of the Israel Elwyn programs.

You can also contact one of our North American offices: United States: (267) 225-5132 or Canada: (416) 649-1655.

If you would like to make a contribution either online or by check, please see the details below.

David B. Marcu, Chief Executive Officer

IE's mission is to develop and provide a wide array of supports and tools for people with disabilities, while constantly striving for excellence of service and the creation of a just society. Together with people with disabilities and society at large, we shall continue working as an innovative and cutting-edge organization.

Please support the work of Israel Elwyn to provide state-of-the-art services in the areas of childhood early intervention, rehabilitation, assisted living, vocational training and employment services for persons with disabilities by making a gift:

At PayPal:
American Friends of Israel Elwyn
Canadian Friends of Israel Elwyn

By check payable to:
American Friends of Israel Elwyn, PO Box 828284, Philadelphia, PA 19182-8284
Canadian Friends of Israel Elwyn, 74 Tycos Drive, Toronto, Ontario M6B 1V9

To donate in Israel:
Please click this link:
Mail checks: payable to "Israel Elwyn", at 20 Henrietta Szold St., Jerusalem 9650200

Back to top