The Division of Anesthesiology was established in 1986. At that time, the staff included 12 specialists and nine residents who covered a huge daily schedule, which included a dozen operating rooms, a tiny pain clinic and a four-bed general intensive care unit. This rather minimal team competently succeeded in coping with the increasing demands of a teaching hospital in addition to performing compact but meaningful clinical studies in the area of anesthesiology and related fields.
In the early 1990s, the new wave of immigrants from the former Soviet Union included a relatively large number of anesthesiologists. After a period of retraining, these professionals were absorbed by the Division and solved the demands of an ever-increasing workload. During the last decade, the staff of the Division of Anesthesiology has steadily grown and presently includes 20 specialists and more than 35 residents in various stages of their training. A new and modern building, the Covell Anesthesia Wing, is home to the teaching activities and the administration offices of the second largest Division of Anesthesiology in Israel.
Today, a total of 16 operating theatres carry out surgical procedures each working day and 50% of them are occupied in the late evening hours. Almost 20,000 surgical procedures are performed annually under the supervision of a physician anesthesiologist. More than one-third of our monthly workload is comprised of emergency cases during the "WHEN time" (weekends, holidays, evenings and nights). Post-anesthesia care is performed in three separate facilities, one of which is on call 24 hours a day.
The new Critical Care Department which opened in 1995 by the combined efforts of the Ministry of Health and Clalit Insurance Company, with the aid of generous donations from Israel and abroad, today has 12 acute care and four more intermediate care beds. Admissions total about 700 annually and are generally patients who have been transferred from medical and surgical adult departments. On a national level, it was the first department to introduce computerized programming for patient data and on line reports and discharge forms.
The Anesthesia Outpatient Clinics Building, a new facility opened in 2002, was a gift from a very well-known friend of the Division, Dr. Charleen Kirkpatrick-Covell from Los Angeles. It covers two of the ambulatory services of the Division – the pre-anesthesia assessment clinic and the pain clinic which includes the Acute Pain Service.
Today most of the painful diagnostic and therapeutic procedures (radiology, gastroenterology) are carried out in the presence of an anesthesiologist. In addition, a senior anesthesiologist is assigned to the Division of Pediatrics.
Ben-Gurion University is the only Israeli medical school offering a compulsory three-week clerkship in anesthesia and critical care. This clerkship offers the medical student the opportunity to spend a couple of days with the emergency team of the Regional Mobile Intensive Care Unit (MICU), a medical facility covering a large area of Beer-Sheva and responding to all emergencies in the city, from burns to care accidents, intoxications or critical cardiac critical conditions.
Our residency program includes full teaching programs for anesthesiologists, a fellowship in Critical Care and clinical rotations for residents coming from various adult medical specialties. We teach basics in Anesthesiology, Critical Care, pain and emergency medicine to students at the Joyce and Irving Goldman Medical School and the Recanati School for Community Health Professions (nursing, undergraduate emergency medicine program).
The Division of Anesthesiology at Ben-Gurion University is recognized by the World Federation of the Societies of Anesthesiologists (WFSA) as a major teaching center for specialists coming from various parts of the world, especially from Eastern Europe. Since 1992 almost 100 anesthesiologists from nine countries have spent one to six months in this program and have been offered a full exposure to modern medicine as it is practiced today in Beer-Sheva.
The Division of Anesthesiology at Ben-Gurion University is the only anesthesia department in Israel which possesses an independent research unit. This unit coordinates and initiates clinical and basic sciences projects in various domains of anesthesia and related fields. Our main research efforts include: head trauma, drug potential, electrical cortical activity during anesthesia and sedation and outcome in ICU, renal replacement, sepsis in ICU, implicit memory during anesthesia. Additional research is focused on the development of new devices. Our Division designed a new mobile respirator which has passed the first trial stages (humans and animals). A completely computerized laryngoscope is in the preliminary stages of designed and is scheduled to enter the simulation phase by the end of 2002. Our research team is currently involved in the clinical trial of a new respiratory monitor, designated by researchers in the Department of Electrical Engineering at Ben-Gurion University, which separates the breathing pattern of each lung during artificial ventilation. If successful, this new device will solve clinical dilemmas and prevent complications in the operating room and critical care area.
► A postdoctorate fellowship in anesthesia and related fields, involving young foreign specialists in combined clinical activity and research projects in the laboratory, clinical wards and operating rooms. A special project soon to be started as a joint venture of specialists in anesthesiology, physiology and clinical psychology will deal with various aspects of professional stress as measured by levels of salivary cortisol.
► A new surgical facility, with eight operating rooms which provides a tremendous increase in our daily workload. Teaching and research will also demand increased effort in the next period.There is no doubt that while the profession will become older and "classic", the team of anesthesia, critical care, and pain management, will stay young and enthusiastic.