What began as one man’s efforts to help elderly Jews in Romania improve their failing eyesight, Jewish Healthcare International (JHI) has developed into a multifaceted organization for Jewish healthcare professionals looking to volunteer their time and expertise towards improving the quality of and access to healthcare services for communities at risk worldwide.
Whether through education and training programs in Eastern Europe, screenings and public health education for Ethiopian Olim in Israel and Ethiopia, or provision of healthcare volunteers, medications and supplies for victims of natural disasters in New Orleans and Haiti, it is evident that JHI embodies the Jewish ideal of Tikun Olam - repairing the world.
Through the leveraging of partnerships and resources, JHI has become a central Jewish volunteer healthcare organization to which Jews turn in order to meet medical and emergency needs throughout the world. With over 185 missions completed by 748 JHI volunteers, from the United States and Israel, JHI has become a key organization in the fight to improve the quality of healthcare services for all.
Beginning with sites in Eastern Europe, JHI volunteers have worked to improve the healthcare services available to the tens of thousands Jews associated with local Joint Distribution Committee Hesedim (Jewish Welfare Centers) and Jewish Agency for Israel programs. Through the education and training of thousands of homecare workers and doctors, as well as the education of thousands of members of the local Jewish community through health promotion seminars given by JHI volunteers in the Hesedim, warm houses, Jewish schools, clubs etc., JHI programs have targeted the most vulnerable members of the Jewish community, including the elderly, physically and mentally challenged adults, single mothers and children with special needs.
In recent years, JHI programs have expanded to meet the ever growing needs of struggling populations throughout the world while continuing to work in Eastern Europe. When JHI received an overwhelming number of requests for opportunities to aide hurricane Katrina evacuees in 2005, the organization quickly strategized and mobilized, sending volunteers to work in a free clinic in Vidalia, Louisiana, as well as holding a one-day health fair at the Plaquemines Medical Center in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana.
After the devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010, JHI began a substantial campaign to provide clinical volunteers first in Port-au-Prince and later in other parts of the country. JHI is now working on a long term project to enhance emergency services and trauma care in Cap-Haitien, in the north of Haiti.
JHI has also developed programs to meet the needs of vulnerable populations in Israel, particularly Ethiopian Olim (immigrants). Successful vision screening programs in Israeli Absorption Centers has now led to the implementation of vision and hearing screenings at numerous Israeli Youth Villages. In an effort to increase the effectiveness of this program, JHI has recently initiated a similar screening program in Gondar, Ethiopia for Olim bound for Israel.
JHI volunteer missions work to bring together healthcare professionals from around the world for the purpose of helping at risk populations around the globe, as well as building professional relationships between Israeli and diaspora professionals.
- JHI founded by Dr. Stephen Kutner.
- JHI sends first missions to Odessa and Chisinau.
- JHI implements new programs in Riga and Minsk.
- JHI begins program in Israeli Absorption Centers to screen Ethiopian Olim for vision problems and provide glasses (free of charge).
- JHI sends volunteers to various clinics in Louisiana to aide Hurricane Katrina victims.
- JHI expands the Absorption Center program in Israel to include hearing screenings.
- JHI holds one-day health fair, at the Plaquemines Medical Center in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana.
- JHI celebrates its 10th anniversary.
- In response to the earthquake in Haiti, JHI partners with Project Medishare to send teams of volunteers to work in clinics in Port-au-Prince.
- JHI initiates Israel Youth Village vision and hearing screening program.
- JHI opens new program in Haiti focusing on trauma/emergency medicine at Justinian University Hospital in Cap-Haitian, in partnership with the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Haitian Ministry of Health.
- JHI begins a new program in Gondar, Ethiopia, to include pre-departure medical screenings of Olim heading to Israel, and an education and training program for local Ethiopian healthcare professionals at Gondar Medical University Hospital.
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