Advisory Board of the Augusta Victoria Hospital Applauds strong COVID-19 response

3 February 2020, Jerusalem: The Augusta Victoria Hospital on the Mount of Olives. Photo: LWF/Albin Hillert
3 February 2020, Jerusalem: The Augusta Victoria Hospital on the Mount of Olives. Photo: LWF/Albin Hillert

Treatment for cancer patients uninterrupted despite pandemic  

(LWI) - The Advisory Board of the Augusta Victoria Hospital (AVH) met on 21 October 2021 and applauded the achievements of the hospital amidst challenges in Palestine and the crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic. They also acknowledged the standing need for support to maintain the level of care services and strategically rise to the meet upcoming challenges.

This was the second meeting of the advisory board since it was launched earlier this year. The meeting was hybrid, with some participants joining online, while others were present on the AVH campus, to uphold safety measures and pandemic-related restriction. Members joined from Canada, the U.S., Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Norway and Sweden. Those present locally in Jerusalem included the Bishop Sani Ibrahim Charlie Azar of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, who is the patron of the board and the two co-Chairs, Dr. Ola Awad (Palestine) and Ms. Gunvor Kronman (Finland), and the staff of LWF and AVH.  

Managing operations to protect patients

Among the topics explored at the meeting were the current state of the hospital, the strong international and ecumenical identity of its network of supporters and the firm local foundation of the AVH as a leading Palestinian institution.

Ms. Maria Immonen, Director of LWF World Service, provided information from the LWF management which oversees the hospital. She informed the Board of Rev. Dr Martin Junge, LWF General Secretary  and Ms. Caroline Tveoy, the Regional Program Coordinator for the Middle East’s ongoing visit to the Jerusalem Program and meeting with key stakeholders. This was the first visit that was possible since the onset of the pandemic. Dr. Fadi Atrash, acting AVH CEO, presented the work in the hospital this year. A highlight during the COVID-19 pandemic is that the Augusta Victoria Hospital was able to continue the necessary operations for cancer patients in chemotherapy and radiation.

As a hospital we acted early and rapidly to adjust our flow of operations, to protect our patients and keep our operations going.
Dr Fadi ATRASH, Augusta Victoria Hospital Acting CEO

“As a hospital we acted early and rapidly to adjust our flow of operations, to protect our patients and keep our operations going. We were able to treat 215 people with COVID-19 infection, with a very low mortality rate of 10%” affirmed Dr. Atrash. Over the course of the last months 10,700 people were vaccinated by the AVH, including staff and people from the community. As of today 84%, of the staff have received a COVID-19 booster shot.

Mr. Alex Kuttab, the AVH Chief Financial Officer, shared that the financial situation of the hospital remains very challenging. Belated and limited payments from the Palestinian Authority (PA) have been affecting the budget. Mr. Kuttab noted that the situation has temporarily improved with the 8.5 million Euros AVH received from the PA in October 2021, which included 7.1 million Euros from a USAID grant. The overall situation however remains critical.  

Enhancing strategies for sustainable care services

LWF and AVH management has taken measures to reduce costs and continue to appeal for sustained support. They are urging the PA and the international donor community to ensure timely and adequate settlement of outstanding payments to save lives.  

LWF mandated the Advisory Board with providing overall strategic and professional advisory support. To meet this goal, the Board formed three committees to provide specific technical advisory support on finance, quality and on advocacy and communication. Sieglinde Weinbrenner, LWF Jerusalem Country Representative, said that “the committees are highly appreciated by the AVH team, since they bring in new ideas and valuable experience that can enhance the operations and strategies of the Augusta Victoria Hospital. We are very much looking forward to our collaboration”.

By LWF/T. Rakoto

View members of the the AVH Advisory Board

Augusta Victoria Hospital is a center of medical excellence in East Jerusalem, serving all 5 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. It offers specialized care not available in other hospitals in the West Bank and Gaza, including radiation therapy for cancer patients and pediatric hemodialysis. Augusta Victoria Hospital is accredited by the Joint Commission International for its outstanding quality. Patients are referred to the AVH by the Palestinian Authority.