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A new building in the enlarged and improved Grabski Multiple Sclerosis Center in Migdal HaEmek was inaugurated this week in a ceremony attended by Welfare Minister Yitzchak Herzog. The center is Israel's first and only dedicated residential and outpatient center devoted exclusively to patients suffering from Multiple Sclerosis, a degenerative disease that ultimately leads to complete incapacitation.

The Grabski MS Center serves patients and families from Beit Shean, Afula, Hadera, Nazareth and the Galilee region. A second location is currently being planned for Beitar Illit to serve patients in the Jerusalem area. The Multiple Sclerosis Center is designed to provide a full home environment for 32 live-in patients, including four apartments for married couples. In addition, the Center serves 35 daily outpatients. Its construction was made possible by the generosity of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (Keren HaYedidut).

The inauguration: A new building, and patients with Rabbi Ze'ev Crombie. (Israel news photos: Chabad)

Currently, ten additional private rooms are being constructed in order to increase the inpatient population to 42 – each with the comfort and dignity of their own private room. In addition, government approval has been granted to create a day care center for those who are seriously handicapped physically but are not victims of MS.

These clients prefer to live in their own homes but can benefit from a day program that offers round-trip transportation, two meals per day, and a full range of activities and therapies to maximize their quality of life. Life at the Center is designed to keep patients busy all day long with a full set of programs including outings, classes, psychotherapy, physiotherapy, holiday celebrations, horticultural therapy, art/ceramics, and three meals daily.

While government subsidies only allow for manual wheelchairs, patients at the center all receive the most advanced electronic wheelchairs. As a patient's condition deteriorates to the point where he or she can no longer get out of bed unassisted, they are not moved to a ward. Rather, an electronic hoist is installed that allows them to remain in their own room for as long as they live.

In addition to its dedicated staff of physicians, nurses and therapists, the Center is staffed by young women who are carrying out their National Service (in lieu of military service).