In the southern region of Israel, cancer diagnoses were rising at a pace dramatically exceeding standard rates. Soroka Medical Center was the only major medical center in this region, serving the area’s population of more than 900,000 people. Responsible for a region that accounts for 60% of Israel’s total land area, Soroka Medical Center was and continues to be among Israel’s most active and largest hospitals. It was the only center available to serve the needs of these cancer patients.
Compounding the area’s problems, a recent shelling from Gaza (and the events of Operation Cast Lead 2009-10) had fostered a pervasive threat of missile attacks. The medical center was forced to move departments underground in fortified locations, creating a dismal atmosphere with the absence of windows and the construction of concrete walls and steel doors.
Despite the size of the catchment area, the staggering prevalence of cancer among its population, and the need for uplifting and yet secure treatment centers for patients, Soroka Medical Center lacked a dedicated cancer facility. Doctors and officials were desperate to help cancer patients live longer, better-quality lives, but a cancer facility would cost $55.7 million. It would take decades for Soroka Medical Center to raise such a large fund on their own, but the cancer patients in the region didn’t have the luxury of time.
In partnership with doctors at Soroka Medical Center and staff at Clalit Health Services, the Israel Healthcare Foundation activated its network of passionate donors in the United States, coordinating communications and amplifying the need of the people of this region to the far corners of the nation. It worked tirelessly to ensure that a comprehensive cancer center with all of the necessary tools for achieving optimal results would be built.
The Legacy Heritage Oncology Center and Dr. Larry Norton Institute, a comprehensive cancer treatment and research center, opened, revolutionizing the treatment of cancer in the region. It is a leading center of its kind in Israel and around the world, providing treatment of the best quality using the most advanced medical technologies available.
But the Legacy Heritage Oncology Center and Dr. Larry Norton Institute doesn’t just provide treatment. It leads the world in research and development. The Medical Center’s campus includes the Ben-Gurion University School of Medicine, enabling fruitful cooperation in research and teaching. The division’s physicians are involved in innovative and groundbreaking studies, some international, that include the development of new treatments, personalized medicine, artificial intelligence and its applications in medicine, and more.
The new center was built, funded in partnership with Clalit Health Services together with donors from Israel and abroad. The Israel Healthcare Foundation cultivated donors, including the Legacy Heritage Fund and Nash Family Foundation, as well as many American donors to assist in establishing the new institute, notably the doctor whom the institute is named, Dr. Larry Norton – a world-renowned cancer researcher and breast cancer specialist, Senior Vice President at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York and Medical Director of the Lauder Breast Cancer Center.