Journey to Bethlehem | Spring Newsletter 2015


Last month I visited Holy Family Hospital, where I saw our grace-filled ministry taking place in the heart of Bethlehem. Upon my return, I reread, with new understanding, Pope Francis’ December letter to Christians in the Middle East. The following excerpts resonate with powerful meaning:

“Dear Christian brothers and sisters in the Middle East, you have an enormous responsibility and in meeting it you are not alone. That is why I wanted to write you, to encourage you and to let you know how precious your presence and your mission are in the land which the Lord has blessed…

… Every day I follow the new reports of the enormous suffering… in the Middle East. I think in particular of the children, the young mothers, the elderly, the homeless, the starving… This suffering cries out to God and it calls for our commitment to prayer and concrete efforts to help in any way possible.”

Reflecting upon His words, my thoughts turn to the work of our Foundation and the thousands of poor and at-risk mothers, babies and families served by Holy Family Hospital — regardless of religion or ability to pay. So, too, my thoughts turn to you — caring friends who answer Pope Francis’ call for ‘prayer and concrete e orts to help in any way possible.’ Indeed, you do so through your embrace and support of all who walk through our Hospital’s blessed doors. As we hold up in prayer those throughout the Middle East, please continue to support the life-arming work taking place every day at Holy Family Hospital in Bethlehem — just steps from where Christ’s birth brought hope to all humanity.

God bless,


Katherine Griffin Hand, Executive Director,

Commitment to Care

The Hospital’s mobile clinic recently made a routine stop at the United Nations Refugee Camp Joret Al Sham’a. Upon the van’s arrival, women were lined up awaiting consultations when Dr. Rojette Kidess, the Clinic’s pediatrician, noticed unusual behavior exhibited by one of the patient’s daughters. Dr. Kidess immediately recognized the symptoms of a significant developmental difference.


The little girl, Rana, was born at a public hospital and is suspected to have suffered from an acute lack of oxygen at delivery. She was diagnosed belatedly with hip dysplasia, which could have been detected and treated earlier through an ultrasound. Her parents lacked funds for the preventative care. The end result for Rana is that she still cannot speak and has difficulty with mobility.

Rana was born to young parents struggling to provide a home for their four children and six extended family members. Rana’s parents sent her to kindergarten, hoping that socialization with peers would accelerate her speech and development.

Since first meeting the little girl, Dr. Kidess has been working with Rana’s family to facilitate requisite support. Dr. Kidess identifi ed a specialized clinic to help Rana overcome her developmental delays, and continues to keep a watchful eye on Rana’s progress. Dr. Kidess emphasized that “Holy Family Hospital’s Mobile Clinic is not only limited to curing sick infants — it is also our responsibility to be sure those infants are developing properly.” She adds,


“Health services and developmental follow-up are fundamental human rights. A child who benefits from appropriate and comprehensive healthcare will be able to grow up to be a healthy adult.”

We at Holy Family Hospital of Bethlehem Foundation are uplifted by the vigilance of Hospital clinicians and staff to ensure comprehensive care for the mothers, babies, children and families we serve.


Outreach Clinics

Holy Family Hospital recently expanded its services to support women’s health issues beyond pregnancy and childbirth. With the opening of the Well Woman Clinic, the Hospital has begun providing healthcare to an underserved population in Bethlehem: women past the child-bearing age.

Healthcare for this population is virtually nonexistent throughout Palestine. It is uncommon for women to visit a doctor to receive preventative screening or even routine check-ups that often lead to life-saving treatment. This Clinic is the only one of its kind in the West Bank and has gained recognition for providing vital education about the importance of healthcare for women.


Traditionally, routine women’s healthcare is not a priority for Palestinians. Given the challenging economic situation in the Bethlehem region and resultant widespread unemployment, healthcare spending has become even less of a priority. Holy Family Hospital initiated outreach to local leaders and public fi gures to educate families about the importance of routine screenings for women. Further, to help encourage women to seek the treatment they need, costs are greatly subsidized or provided for free by generous donors of our Foundation.

Heidi, a 50-year-old mother from Bethlehem suffering from a urinary tract abnormality, is a recent recipient of one such subsidy. For more than fi ve years, Heidi was too embarrassed about her condition to seek medical attention. After a close friend was treated at the Well Woman Clinic, she fi nally decided to seek treatment and soon learned that her problem could be corrected with a simple surgical procedure. Heidi could not afford the treatment, but with the help of a social worker at Holy Family Hospital, her bill was covered, allowing Heidi to get the surgery at no cost to her or her family.

The surgery was a success. Heidi returned to Holy Family Hospital a week after the procedure for a routine check-up and expressed her gratitude. “I was desperate and suffered a lot from my previous condition,” she said.


“I was not able to fully live my life and working outside my home was impossible. Now, I thank God for the generosity of Holy Family Hospital! I can live my life now, and I will be able to find a job and help support my family!”

The Well Woman Clinic is just one example of the services provided by Holy Family Hospital that help women live a full and healthy life. Our Foundation is grateful for the support of generous donors who have made this clinic possible. Thank you for your continued commitment to help women like Heidi.

Give the Gift of Life


Like the innkeeper’s wife in Scripture who showed Mary to the stable, you can be a modern-day innkeeper for families in need today. Now more than ever, your generous support will ensure critical care and life-arming treatment for the poorest of poor mothers, babies and families throughout the Bethlehem region in the Holy Land.



To contribute by check or credit card, please use the attached return envelope. Please make your check payable to Holy Family Hospital of Bethlehem Foundation. Donations can be made online at Holy Family Hospital of Bethlehem Foundation is a registered 501(c)(3) organization. All donations are tax-deductible according to current IRS guidelines.



If you would like to make your gift go further, consider a matching gift. Many employers match donations to Holy Family Hospital of Bethlehem Foundation. If your company is eligible, request a matching gift form from your employer, and send it completed and signed with your gift. We will do the rest! The impact of your contribution to Holy Family Hospital of Bethlehem Foundation may be doubled or possibly tripled. Some companies also match gifts made by retirees and/or spouses.


Remembering the most vulnerable and poor of Bethlehem in your will is a wonderful way to provide support in perpetuity. Your generosity will be memorialized on a plaque at the Hospital in the Holy Land. All bequests to Holy Family Hospital of Bethlehem Foundation are tax deductible for estate planning purposes, based on current IRS regulations.

For more information about making a planned gift, please contact Katherine Griffin Hand at 202.785.0801, or email


Peace Through Medicine


In addition to providing first-rate healthcare, Holy Family Hospital plays an important role as an instrument of peace in the Middle East. The Hospital employs 150 Palestinians — both Christians and Muslims — who work side by side as colleagues on a daily basis. Dr. Michael Espiritu, a neonatologist and Assistant Professor of pediatrics at NYU School of Medicine, recently visited Holy Family Hospital.

“It was an amazing experience to work with the incredibly dedicated doctors and trainees,” he said. “In the NICU, both Muslims and Christians were working together in the service of life.”

The Hospital provides important training and advancement opportunities — especially for women in an area where few exist. Our Hospital actively sustains a Christian presence in the Holy Land.

Building partnerships and dialogue across religions is an important byproduct of our work. The reputation of the Hospital and our doctors assures that relationships are being built outside the West Bank to Jerusalem and beyond. For example, we are able to obtain permission for a baby requiring specialized surgery to go to Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem. As a Catholic teaching hospital, we recently sponsored a conference in Bethlehem, including attendees from Israel, Palestine and Europe. Additionally, two residents from our Hospital are completing their residencies in the Israeli Ein Karem Hospital and have been acknowledged as the most superb candidates in their rotation.

What a wonderful way of fostering peace through medicine! The collaboration between the Israeli and Palestinian medical communities fosters gratitude and goodwill, demonstrating firsthand how medicine builds bridges to peace.

Foundation News & Updates


Holy Family Hospital of Bethlehem Foundation sadly announces the passing of a longtime, generous friend, Charles “Eddie” Maria. Eddie worked most of his career as an engineer for the City of San Diego Water Authority. Eddie chose to live a simple life, forgoing the acquisition of material possessions. He dedicated his life to serving the Catholic Church. His primary philanthropic interest was to support Catholics in the Middle East — particularly mothers. Though never a parent himself, Eddie cared deeply for children, and firmly believed that the best way to improve the life of a child is to support the child’s mother.

In this spirit, Eddie was a founding member of Holy Family Hospital of Bethlehem Foundation’s Three Kings Society. This Giving Society ensures that no family will ever be turned away because of inability to pay. Remembering the Foundation in your will is an opportunity to create a legacy of care for the most vulnerable and poor in the birthplace of Christianity. As a member of the Three Kings Society, your generosity, like Eddie Maria’s, will be honored in perpetuity at our Hospital in Bethlehem.


Eddie’s generous bequest will help fund a renovation of the operating rooms at Holy Family Hospital. Thousands of women and infants will continue to receive care and treatment through his life-arming gift.

Please join in offering prayers and gratitude to the family of Charles “Eddie” Maria. He was a special person who truly lived his life in service to others. Eddie’s legacy will live on in the beautiful, smiling faces of the mothers, children and families whose lives are blessed and elevated through his inspired vision of generosity.

For more information about Holy Family Hospital of Bethlehem Foundation, including stories about mothers, babies and families in the Holy Land who are treated at Holy Family Hospital, please visit our website! You will also find pictures and videos of the Hospital outreach programs, ways to involve your Parish and updated news from the Foundation. Our website also has the Foundation’s most recent audit and 501(c)(3) documentation. Please visit

A Milestone Birth

HF-birth3Dina Atlick made local history 25 years ago when she was the first baby born at the newly reopened Holy Family Hospital in Bethlehem. Her mother had been encouraged to give birth at the Hospital because it was brand new and featured the latest medical technology. Her designation as the fi rst baby delivered at the Hospital made Dina feel special. When asked about the Hospital, Dina said

“I was the first of thousands of babies! I know that someday I’ll give birth at Holy Family Hospital, too. It’s my hospital!”

Dina attended the Catholic Bethlehem University and returned to Holy Family Hospital for a summer internship in the finance department. She later graduated at the top of her class from the University’s Business School. In 2011, Dina became engaged to her high school sweetheart, Ibrahim Boullou, whom she had known almost her entire life. The couple married in 2012 at the Church of the Nativity.

On February 4, 2012 — almost 25 years to the day from when Dina became Holy Family Hospital’s first delivery — Amir Boullou was born in perfect health, weighing in at an even seven pounds. During her recovery, Dina expressed her happiness


“I am so grateful to Holy Family Hospital for supporting me throughout my life. I am comfortable here and know the entire stay will help take care of me and make sure my baby boy is healthy!”

Since Dina’s birth on February 26, 1990, Holy Family Hospital has delivered over 63,000 babies and treated thousands of women in its out-patient clinics. The Hospital has grown from the original 26-bed facility to accommodating over 60 beds, including an 18-bed Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Holy Family Hospital plays a vital role in the Bethlehem region, providing employment and life-saving medical care as the primary referral teaching hospital for the local community, including United Nations Refugee camps.

After Amir’s birth, the doctors and stay celebrated another child brought into the world, and another generation of mothers that continues to receive the best available medical care. We are so thankful to all of you who support Holy Family Hospital of Bethlehem Foundation. Your generosity and care will continue to make an immeasurable impact in promoting the health and wellness of the next generation of mothers and children in the Holy Land.