Fri, 14 Aug 2020

by Keren Setton

JERUSALEM, July 13 (Xinhua) -- Moshe Tauber is one of many Israeli volunteers who help COVID-19 patients after getting recovery from the virus.

Moshe has recovered from COVID-19 recently. After being moderately ill for a few weeks, he has been busy ever since he recuperated. He has already donated his plasma cells to other virus patients three times and now he has a new calling.

Since last week, the 22-year-old has been volunteering at the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem as part of a new initiative aimed to alleviate the plight of those hospitalized in the COVID-19-dedicated ward of the hospital.

The idea came from the director general of Hadassah, Zeev Rotstein. Rely Alon, deputy director general for nursing at the center, is in charge of implementing the program.

Most of the volunteers come through the non-profit Yad Avraham organization in the Jewish ultraorthodox Jerusalem neighborhood of Mea Shearim.

Like Moshe, other volunteers need to have recovered from the virus and their test results need to show a very high rate of COVID-19 antibodies.

Still, when they do their job, they are fully protected with the same gear as the medical staff. In addition, they have received an injection which boosts their anti-viral load in order to further immunize them.

Because of the highly contagious nature of the disease, those in need of hospitalization are largely isolated. Families are not allowed to visit their relatives at all, unless they are in their dying moments. Medical staff also carefully calculate the times they approach their patients, trying to do as much as they can remotely, often through sophisticated technology that allows for distance monitoring.

Many of the patients are elderly and dependent on help for even the most basic of tasks.

"The main side-effect of this disease is loneliness," Rely Alon told Xinhua in an exclusive interview. "The patients and their families are both lonely and cannot be together," he said.

There are currently 15 volunteers, but according to Alon, the phone has not stopped ringing in recent days with people lining up to volunteer. They work for three-hour shifts, but sometimes they stay longer.

"I bring the patients their food and make them tea, but most of them just want to talk and I listen," Moshe told Xinhua, "They didn't know how to thank me, they were so emotional that I came."

Moshe helps distribute meals and make phone calls for patients who want to reach out to their loved ones.

For Moshe, the experience provides an important look into the work of the medical staff. Wearing protective gear for hours at a time is challenging. He says that after hours of having the gear on, in the Jerusalem summer, the heat is overwhelming.

"I want everyone to appreciate medical staff all over the world," he said, "They are really risking their lives."

Moshe says he will continue to volunteer as long as he is able and needed. "It gives me a great satisfaction, a great feeling to help people," he said.

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