“Birthplace of Hope” Prepares for Historic Delivery

Holy Family Hospital of Bethlehem prepares to welcome its 50,000th baby

WASHINGTON, D.C., Sept. 14, 2010 – The staff of Holy Family Hospital of Bethlehem is preparing for a historic birth at the facility, located only 500 yards from the traditional birthplace of Jesus. After 20 years of operation, under the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, Holy Family Hospital will welcome into the world its 50,000th baby – as early as next month!

“Everyone at the hospital is very excited about the pending arrival,” said Colleen Marotta, executive director of the U.S.-based Holy Family Hospital Foundation, which supports the work of the hospital. “We rejoice on the hospital’s achievements and give thanks for the Sovereign Military Order of Malta’s devotion to the families in the Holy Land – especially the poor and destitute. For two decades, no expectant mother has arrived at the hospital to hear that there is ‘no room’ for them or their babies.”

The French Daughters of Charity founded Holy Family Hospital in 1888 to minister to the sick and needy of Bethlehem. For nearly 100 years, the Daughters of Charity provided medical care under the most difficult conditions. In 1985, they were forced to close the hospital due to insufficient funding. In 1990, the Sovereign Military Order of Malta renovated a portion of the old General Hospital and converted the facility into a modern, well-equipped maternity unit.

Since then, the Holy Family Hospital has become the premier maternity hospital and newborn critical care center in the Bethlehem region, neighboring towns and villages, four United Nations refugee camps, and Bedouin encampments in the Judean Desert.  The late Venerable Pope John Paul II dedicated Holy Family Hospital of Bethlehem one of the top 100 priorities of the new millennium.

After twenty years of operation:

  • Births have escalated from 1,000 annually to more than 3,000 – with more than 2,230 successful deliveries already this year.
  • Its outpatient clinics – including six mobile outreach units – have grown from 3,600 consultations each year to more than 22,000.
  • Holy Family Hospital provides the region’s only neonatal intensive care unit, which saves the lives of more than 400 premature and low-birth-weight babies every year.
  • Nearly 90 midwives –the entire number working in all hospitals in the West Bank – received their training at Holy Family Hospital.
  • The hospital now offers mammography, laparoscopic surgery and Echo Doppler diagnosis services not found anywhere else in the region.

As a result of its expanded services and the increase in deliveries, the hospital’s budget has grown from less than $1 million to $3.7 million annually. Patient payments generate about $2.1 million, with donations from around the world making up the $1.6 million difference.

“We have created a special resource section on the Foundation’s website at www.BirthPlaceofHope.org to celebrate the 50,000th birth,” Marotta said. “Visitors will find stories about mothers and babies who literally have been saved by Holy Family Hospital. They will find features about staff members and the mobile outreach clinics. And they’ll learn more about the various ways they can assist the hospital in its ongoing mission to provide a safe haven and the highest quality health care for mothers and newborns in the West Bank.”