Health of Yeshiva/ Seminary students in Israel - Q&A from parents


After the holidays, students are returning to Yeshiva and Seminary.  The long stretch begins.  Over the last few weeks, parents have posed questions to us; EMA Care has answers...

Q: My son called me because he isn’t feeling well.  I am 7500 miles away.  What can I do?

Q: Can I send my daughter to Israel if she has a chronic health condition?

Q: If there is an urgent medical issue during the year, how can I be sure my child is getting appropriate care?

Q: My son called me because he isn’t feeling well.  I am 7500 miles away.  What can I do?

A: When parents send their child abroad for the first time, it is natural to be concerned over “who will look out for him if I am not there”.  Inevitably, over the course of a year, even the healthiest young adult gets sick and needs medical attention.  The distance and time difference between you also greatly limits your ability to help in situations like this.  Add in a new language and medical culture, and things can get complicated even for simple seasonal illnesses (like flu) or minor acute problems (like a sprained ankle).  Unlike the US, community physicians in Israel are not “on-call” and students have no access to Israeli HMO helplines.

In fact, most yeshivas, seminaries, and colleges do not have a health care provider on site.  Students are often left on their own to attend appointments, get medication, and even go to urgent care centers or ERs.  Some schools will send an attendant or ask a fellow student to attend, but in nearly all cases, these attendants have little to no medical training, sometimes do not speak Hebrew fluently, and do not know how to navigate the Israeli health care system.

EMA Care fills this gap by providing after-hour on-call services for students, allowing them to have a local liaison to confer with, to get advice and referrals from.  EMA Care’s augmented plan provides health services in person, arranging and attending appointments as needed, providing extensive health education and advocacy.

Q: Can I send my daughter to Israel if she has a chronic health condition?

A: This is a question often posed.  Young adults with chronic health conditions are often dependent on their parents for help and support when in high school.  Coming to Israel may be the first time the student has independently managed his or her health condition. 

Part of their year abroad is learning to manage their health independently, and taking responsibility for themselves.  Successfully managing their health is an essential part of becoming a responsible adult and learning to make good health choices.

EMA Care advocates for students to make informed, independent decisions about their health conditions with health guidance and advocacy.  EMA care can refer students to appropriate physicians for medical management, can assess for crises, and provide in-person advocacy and support for school administration, urgent health issues, and crisis management.

There are specific situations where EMA Care advocates for a child to return to his or her home, but these are extremely specific issues that rarely occur.  Part of the communication we provide is helping parents and students make appropriate decisions, to keep the student healthy and yet able to enjoy their year abroad to the fullest extent.  Israel has excellent health services, even for complex health issues.  Accessing the best care is key to a healthy year abroad.

If a student is endangering him or herself, making poor decisions consistently, ignoring health advice, or being untruthful about their condition – there may be a reason to consider NOT sending him or her abroad.

Q: If there is an urgent medical issue, how can I be sure my child is getting appropriate care?

A:  With a combination of language, culture, and health knowledge gaps – this can be a real problem.  What if your child cannot communicate his or her needs properly? A migrant family who didn’t speak Hebrew or English came to the emergency room at a prestigious Tel Aviv hospital with a baby who was crying for 2 days.  After 24 hours, blood tests, and evaluations – they were discharged with over-the-counter medication.  The problem was the child was still crying.  I saw this child a day later and assessed that the child had a simple ear infection that had been missed.  The physician prescribed an appropriate antibiotic and the problem was solved.

Communication is key to getting appropriate health care in any setting, but especially in the multicultural environment of Israeli health care.  EMA care remains informed on the latest treatments and evidence-based health care and provides advocacy so that your child is in fact receiving optimal care.  In the US or Israel, something can be missed.  It does happen.  But EMA Care experts work hard to ensure optimal communication, US-level health care services and treatment, health cultural liaison services, and optimal patient education, health promotion, and crisis/ disease prevention to limit any potential misses.

Learn more about how we can help your child in Israel. Reach out now to schedule your free consultation.

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