My name is Judy Bogen, I am 48 years old, a wife and mother, a survivor of breast cancer and the proud founder of Place2Heal. I set up this organization almost two years ago following my own journey with breast cancer. During a three-year shlichut in the United States, I was diagnosed and treated for breast cancer. To say the least, this was a very difficult and challenging time in our lives, especially being so far away from all things familiar. Our friends and family were all in either the UK or Israel. The community in Silver Spring, MD stepped up in a way that we could never have imagined and soon we had all our food, rides, playdates and whatever else was needed, organized. During the time of my illness, I was mostly very low and struggling with the everyday challenges of dealing with cancer. The center where I received my medical care and cancer treatment was comfortable, airy and conducive to my overall wellbeing. Thankfully, we survived the storm and after three years in the US, we returned home to Israel in the summer of 2011.
As soon as we returned, while resettling our family into life in Israel, I decided that I wanted to bring about a change in our outpatient care here. I receive excellent care at Hadassah hospital, but I feel that there is much work to be done to improve the physical environment in the outpatient clinics of our hospitals. I decided to set up Place2Heal, to build an organization that would focus on patient centered care and improving the patient experience in outpatient care in Israel’s hospitals. Some healthcare facilities in Israel are privileged to receive donations and build state-of-the-art health centers. But there are many others who do not have this advantage.
I spent over a year researching the concept of Evidence Based Design and how our surroundings can directly affect our stress levels and need for pain medication – among other things. I want to provide patients with the support they need while struggling with a challenging illness. This support does not necessarily have to be in the physical environment, but can also come in the form of alternative therapies, emotional support for patients and their families, and understanding the difficulties involved in how they cope on a day-to-day basis.
For our pilot project, we are excited to be working together with the Kaplan Medical Center in Rechovot. With the use of color, lighting, acoustics, textiles, furniture and nature, we are taking the existing space in the Oncology Day Care Unit and transforming it into the optimum healing environment that the patients so richly deserve. I have spent time there talking with the patients and really listening to what they have to say. They have guided us as to the best ways that we can help them make their hospital visits bearable. Some of the patients in this particular unit travel to and from their treatment via public transportation which is a challenge in itself – whether it be in extreme heat or the winter months. The staff at Kaplan are kind, understanding and care deeply about their patients. Together with the head of Kaplan, Dr. Carlos Gruzman, and his devoted team, I know that our work will benefit the patients at the hospital and in the future, many more patients and their families, throughout Israel.
My personal experience led me on a journey and took me to a place I had never imagined. The experience of cancer is a part of who I am, but does not define me. My story is what drives my passion for improving and enhancing healthcare and making the world a better place for us all.
For more information and to be a part of our important work, please visit: www.place2heal.co.il.