LWF Jerusalem cancer hospital a center of excellence

Augusta Victoria Hospital CEO Walid Nammour: the hospital is the main arm of the LWF in Jerusalem. Photo: LWF/M.Renaux

New CEO wants Augusta Victoria to care for all

(LWI) - In the year since he became chief executive officer of the LWF-run Augusta Victoria Hospital, Walid Nammour has already realised what he sees as his primary role as CEO – to build on the “long, outstanding” service the hospital has provided over many years to Palestinians.

Nammour recently led the hospital through the rigorous re-accreditation process of Joint Commission International, a US-based body that assesses hospitals and health care facilities globally. It examined every level of quality assurance and patient safety at AVH.  

The JCI has confirmed accreditation for another three years.

“We passed that test. This puts us among the forefront of hospitals in East Jerusalem. We are the first to be accredited and we continue to be the lead in terms of quality and safety of patients,” Nammour says.

Earlier this year, the hospital inaugurated its bone marrow transplantation service.

“Providing services to all”

Nammour wants the only hospital providing radiation therapy for the territory’s cancer patients to maintain its standing as a center of excellence.

“For any Palestinian living in Jenin, in Hebron, in Gaza, the word AVH means quality health care. The word means tolerance, it means dignity. It‘s deeply rooted in this culture.”

The AVH is valued by Palestinians. “The AVH is unique in many instances but among others it’s the diaconal aspect of the work. This is the main arm of the LWF in Jerusalem providing services to people of all races, of all colours, regardless of ability to pay, or of who you are in term of geography.

“The value system comes first at AVH. The values are deeply rooted in the ethos of the LWF. You see it’s very apparent. It’s these things that have made AVH what is.”

The hospital was founded in 1948. It is the only facility serving 4.5m Palestinians in the area of radiation therapy from both Gaza strip and the West Bank.

“In the context of being responsive to the changing needs of the Palestinians, we have developed the hospital into what it is now: a state of the art tertiary care service specializing in oncology services.”

Nammour is himself a Palestinian refugee. Born in the old city of Jerusalem, he pursued his profession in health and hospital management, training in England, the United States and France. He built his career over 25 years as director of health care institutions and also served a senior advisor to the first Minister of Health for the Palestinian Authority.

Our motivation is to serve the poor AVH is licenced to serve 172 in-patients but because of high demand it has been forced to shift some in-patient beds to outpatient services. Running 120 in-patient beds allows more outpatients to come for chemotherapy, diagnostic services and radiation therapy. The hospital has leased a 100-bed hotel nearby for patients during their three-week treatment cycles.

AVH staff are inspired beyond purely professional reasons, Nammour says. “It’s not just a job. Our motivation is to serve the poor, serve the indigenous population and support these people in the context of human rights. This is what makes AVH different from other organizations.”

Nammour’s dream for the next five years of the life of the hospital is to ensure AVH expands and is one day able to meet the cancer care and paediatric dialysis needs of all Palestinians.

“Proud of the success story that is AHV”

LWF program officer for Middle East and North Africa, Anne Caroline Tveoy, praised Nammour for stepping up to take over the reins of the hospital literally overnight, following the sudden passing of former CEO Dr Tawfiq Nasser in May last year. Nammour had only just started as deputy CEO.

She said the LWF was proud of the success story that is AVH, and of the important service and witness it renders through AVH on the Mount of Olives.

“Under the joint leadership of the LWF/AVH Management Team, we see a hospital that is thriving. Services continue to be delivered with the same level of professionalism and quality that AVH has always been known for."