When the Terrorist Is Your Patient

SGPV_0318_Sticky_Feature_4_Hadassah BUILDING BRIDGES TO peace has been an intrinsic part of the work Hadassah has been doing for over 100 years. Hadassah connects Jewish women and empowers them to effect change through advocacy, advancing health and well-being, and support of Israel. Hadassah members, from every congressional district in the nation, are activists, fundraisers and visionaries. They don’t just talk. Hadassah women DO.

An outstanding current example of this ideal is two Hadassah nurses, one Jewish and one Arab, who work with a non-governmental organization (NGO) called “Nurses of the Middle East”, which believes that Jews working side by side with Arabs breaks down barriers and changes perspectives.

Julie Benbenishty, is an Intensive Care Nurse at Hadassah who serves as the Trauma Nurse Coordinator at Hadassah Ein Kerem, and Acram Said-Ahmad** is both the Head Nurse in the Hadassah Advanced Imaging Radiology Department and a lawyer. When they are not on duty as nurses at Hadassah, they are volunteers for Nurses of the Middle East. Nurses of the Middle East seek to encourage nurses to be ambassadors of caring and through patient care, creating communities of compassion & understanding.

While political systems have built borders and checkpoints, they insure that care has no boundaries and carries no identification card. Through outreach, nursing exchange, education, and research, they build lines of communication throughout the region and the world. This network supports community and individual holistic health.

Last January, Benbenishty spoke to members of our community about what it’s like to treat a terrorist. “It is not a question of ‘if,’ but when the next terrorist attack will occur. Nurses must be prepared for the worst case scenarios, mass casualties as well as treating terrorists.” She asks the hard hitting question, are nurses prepared? “Many publications can be found covering treating victims of bombings, crush and blast injuries. However, there is scant literature regarding the challenges of coping with “caring” for a terrorist. The best evidence available for learning coping techniques as well as tips on how to prevent PTSD development among nurses treating terrorists is to learn firsthand reports of measures that Israeli nurses use in the age of terror bombings. Sharing valuable experiences and lessons learned is essential in expanding knowledge and gaining insight.”

The key content concepts that are covered in her session include background on terrorist motivation, how nurses can learn techniques in coping with the challenges of treating a terrorist, face an angry public and fierce media intrusion, as well developing resilience and strength. Ethical dilemmas of balancing between self-preservation and professional duties are ever present. The educational content covered here is robust as the Israeli nurses have experienced an incidence and frequency of treating terrorist for the past 5-10 years and have accumulated a wide foundation of experience and knowledge to be shared. “This session covers accounts of Israeli nurses’ experiences in times of terror and their techniques. Expect an open, interactive discussion of the issues of personal and professional resilience in times of crisis – when you have no choice, you are the nurses to treat the terrorist during an entire shift–today,” said Benbenishty.

I believe the only way to combat hate is face it, head on, with compassion and strength. That is exactly what Julie is doing every day and spreading the word across the nation to educate and reach the people who need to hear what is happening on the front lines of these hospitals. It is the nurses that are the true unsung heroes and I am honored to write about the incredible work they do, day in and day out.

Julie has been a nurse since 1978 when she received her Nursing Diploma at the Hadassah Hebrew University School of Nursing. She also holds a Bachelor in Psychology from the University of Vermont / USA where she graduated in the year 2000. In 2003, Julie became Chairman of the national organization for Evidenced Based Nursing in Intensive Care and she also teaches at the Hebrew University. She is also an author who has published two books, “Disaster Management for Nurses” and “Autonomy of patients experiencing life threatening experiences.”


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