The 2,000 bed underground hospital has been designed to protect patients and hospital staff in warlike conditions. This one-of-a-kind medical facility is located seventeen meters below the surface of where Rambam Medical Center is expanding its medical campus to include the Ruth Rappaport Children’s Hospital, the Fishman Oncology Center, a Cardiovascular Hospital and a Biomedical Discovery research tower.
The northern region of Israel is no stranger to missile attacks and the realities of war. During the 2006 war with Lebanon, Rambam Hospital was under attack and in direct line of fire for an entire month. The staff had no choice but to evacuate half of the hospital, placing patients in unrealistic conditions such as basements and corridors. It became clear to the hospital’s committee that protective measures needed to be taken for future situations, and a new provision would have to be made in order to continue to function during wartime.
With the conflicts that Israel faces daily from neighboring countries, it was widely accepted that an underground medical facility was nothing short of a necessity in Israel. Even now, despite the “relaxation” of war within Israel, officials say it is imperative to complete this project before any other unpredictability can disrupt it.
Once the idea for an underground hospital was born, the Israeli government became involved, joining forces with Rambam to expedite this process. The project was made possible after receiving a sizable donation from Israeli billionaire Sammy Ofer. The Israeli government and other donors provided the rest of the finances needed. Once signing on to the project, the government had ideas of their own. The Ministries of Health and Finance, together with the official governmental bodies that deal with country’s preparedness, suggested making it a regional hospital, dictating the number of beds it offered. The above-ground facility at Rambam has only a 1,000 bed capacity, while the underground one will have twice as many to meet the demand of providing a strategic solution for Haifa and the Northern region in the case of war.
While there are other underground hospitals in the world, Rambam’s is the only facility that will be able to transfer 2,000 patients, their staff, and the necessary equipment underground in the period of 48-72 hours.