At first, they called it simply Army Hospital No. 5. Initial patients were members of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and civilians wounded during the War of Independence. A cluster of abandoned military barracks built by the U.S. military in 1941 subsequently housed a British army hospital. The wounded were carried on old-fashioned stretchers through the windows of the Quonset huts to be treated on army cots.
The hospital was originally named by Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion as Tel Hashomer, the “Hill of the Guardian,” in honor of those guarding and defending the road to Jerusalem. The hospital became a civilian facility in 1953, and was renamed the Chaim Sheba Medical Center after the death of its founder, Dr. Chaim Sheba. The first Surgeon General of the Israel Defense Forces, Dr. Sheba dreamed of an Israel in which the finest medical care would be available to all who sought cure and comfort. His vision soon became a reality: the largest and most comprehensive medical facility in Israel and the Middle East.
The State of Israel and Sheba Medical were born together at a time of war. They have grown and developed side by side to become remarkable examples of humankind’s ability to achieve the impossible. Located just outside of Tel Aviv, Sheba Medical Center is a shining beacon of hope, and a constant reminder that it is possible to treat all men, women, and children equally, regardless of their ethnic, religious, or geographic origin.
This “House of Humanitarian Endeavor,” as Eleanor Roosevelt named it, embraces many philosophies, doing more than simply abolishing active disease. Sheba treats the whole person through a comprehensive approach involving prevention, treatment, and complimentary medicine—considering the physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual aspects of a patient.
For the hospital and staff, the commitment to compassionate care is extended to every patient—Moslem, Druze, Christian, or Jew. Patients come to Sheba from across the Middle East. Additionally, emissaries from this house of healing have traveled far beyond Israel’s borders to countries around the world, providing support and supplies, relief and training in Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Cambodia, Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kosovo, Peru, Russia, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, and many more.
Indeed, Sheba Medical Center’s 150 acres are the life-giving, life-saving center of the State of Israel, and the entire Middle East.