Ben-Gurion University of the Negev dedicated the first palliative care resource centre in Israel in a virtual ceremony on Monday. The Kappy and Eric Flanders National Palliative Care Resource Centre will build on BGU’s considerable existing strengths to take the field of palliative care to the next level in Israel. In addition to being the first in Israel, it joins a select few such centers worldwide.
This historic advancement in palliative care is made possible by the generosity of the Prosserman Family of Toronto. Known for their philanthropy and devotion to community, the Prosserman Family has made a very generous gift to BGU towards the Centre, in honor of Dr. Vivian Rakoff, Dr. Aaron Klug, and Professor Adam Klug, all of blessed memory.
The Centre will combine four pillars of activity under one roof. As the first academic palliative care centre in Israel, it will develop educational courses to teach specialists and non-specialists alike. It will spearhead hands-on training as a natural accompaniment to the academic component. The Centre will also initiate and, to the extent possible, fund research in the field.
Finally, following a doctrine of “lead, not follow”, the director and members of the centre will advocate for extending palliative care to all residents of the country who require it and will fight for systemic change on all levels.
“BGU has the largest concentration of palliative care specialists in the country and our expertise extends back over the past 25 years,” declared Centre director Prof. Pesach Shvarztman. “BGU initiated, and still runs, the INPACT (Israel National Palliative Care Training) Program, which was developed with funding from JOINT-ESHEL and the New York Jewish Federation. We have over 2,000 graduates and we are eager to extend the program to incorporate innovative new training. We look forward to working with all of Israel’s specialists and bringing palliative care from the South all the way to the North.”
The late Eric M. Flanders was one of the founders of the Canadian Associates of Ben-Gurion University (CABGU) in 1973 and its first president. After his death in 1991 at the age of 54 from lung cancer, his wife Marcia (Kappy) (pictured above) Flanders became passionate about increasing access to palliative care and pursued that objective for the rest of her life, both in Canada and in Israel. She felt that no one else should go through the same trauma of helping a loved one cope with serious disease without a professional support network. In 2000, she established an educational fund at BGU in his memory, the Eric M. Flanders Endowment Fund in Palliative Medicine.
Upon Kappy Flanders’ passing earlier this year at the age of 81, BGU President Prof. Daniel Chamovitz informed her three children, Susan, Judith and Elle, that BGU would be honoring the Flanders by naming the new Centre after them.
“When she [Kappy] believed something should happen, she made it happen,” said Susan, her eldest daughter, during the dedication event.
Judith mused how her mother “looked around for new worlds to conquer” and organized a weeklong event in Montreal “because who doesn’t organize 150 events in their 81st year?”
Elle thanked BGU and Dr. Yoram Singer for the new Centre, adding “We know how essential it was to our mother and to us, but also to the residents of Beer-Sheva and the world at large.”
Kappy Flanders grew up in a strongly Zionist household in London, England. She met David Ben-Gurion as a young child with her parents. She married Eric Flanders at age 18 and had four children by age 27. She was active in her local Jewish community, and became a major advocate for palliative care in Canada after Eric’s tragic passing.
“We believe this Centre named after Kappy and Eric will help make palliative care much more accessible throughout Israel, just as Kappy would have wanted,” says Prof. Shvartzman.
In addition to Prof. Shvartzman, the founding members of the new Centre include Dr. Yoram Singer, Prof. A. Mark Clarfield, both originally from Canada, and Dr. Tali Samson.