Dr. Leah Lev: I have been volunteering at the Open Clinic since it was founded. For the last two and a half years, I have been overseeing the care of chronically ill patients, the benefit of which is that I’m able to get to know the patients and in turn, they are able to rely on me. The work of the clinic for chronic patients varies from that of the general Open Clinic, since the latter often serves to “put out the fire” or handle immediate cases.
About a month ago, I saw a patient who I presumed needed routine care- a new supply of medication and to have his blood pressure checked. All of a sudden, he told me about how two weeks prior he and his wife had been trapped in a fire in their apartment on Wolfson St. The entire building burned down and his wife perished in the blaze. Unprepared for such terrible news, I asked about his other family members and if he had connections to anyone in Eritrea. He explained that two of his children were in a refugee camp in Eritrea and had no access to a telephone and that in the meantime he’s moved in with some friends.
I had never heard anything like this in my life and thought stories like this only happened in the movies! I felt such profound empathy for him, and felt helpless, as well as angry and embarrassed about the way he had been treated by my government. I referred him to a psychiatrist and to a social worker. He’s currently undergoing therapy at the Open Clinic and meeting with a social worker at the refugee aid agency ASSAF in Tel Aviv.
I am aware of the fact that my work at the Open Clinic is only a small portion of want needs to be done and that there are still many chronically ill patients who are not receiving treatment.
As a result of my encounter with S', the Eritrean refugee, I am all the more aware of the need and necessity of a clinic such as PHR-IL's Open Clinic, as well as other support centers. Although we live in the 21st century, only a small portion of the world population enjoys minimal security and welfare and we, the lucky ones, can and should lend a helping hand.
I call upon my colleagues in all medical professions to come volunteer
at PHR-IL's Open Clinic
Dr. Lea Lev