Launching of the Protocol of Agreement between Hôtel Dieu de France and Hôpital Tel Chiha

Signing ceremony of the Protocol of Agreement between Hôtel Dieu de France and Hôpital Tel Chiha under the patronage of Patriarch Ier Absi

On Thursday, December 15, 2022, the Grand Kadri Hotel - Zahlé, hosted a large gathering of religious leaders, ministers, deputies, judges and university professors who attended the signing ceremony of the Protocol of Agreement between Hôtel Dieu de France and Hôpital Tel Chiha, under the patronage of the Patriarch of the Melkite Greek Catholic Youssef Ier Absi, at the invitation of the Archbishop of the Melkite Greek Catholic of Fourzol, Zahlé and the Bekaa, Bishop Ibrahim M. Ibrahim B.S, the Rector of Saint-Joseph University in Beirut and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Hôtel Dieu de France Prof. Salim Daccache s.j, the Director General of the Hôtel Dieu de France Mr. Nassib Nasr, and the President of the Order of Physicians Professor Youssef Bakhach. This agreement is a big step forward in restoring the important role that Tel Chiha held with regard to hospital services in the Bekaa region, and more particularly in the city of Zahlé.

The ceremony began at five o'clock in the afternoon with the singing of the Lebanese national anthem, after which the TV presenter, Bassam Abou Zeid, welcomed the participants. Then, he gave the floor to the President of the Order of Physicians, Professor Youssef Bakhach. The latter began his speech by saying: “It was not easy to accept the challenge of putting Hôpital Tel Chiha back on the health map of the Bekaa region. In addition, it was not easy to accept the decline of such a medical establishment that dates back to 1906, as the documents and papers available to us show. All I had to do was to take up this challenge by betting on its success and on the agreement of my colleagues concerning the twinning project with the management of Hôtel Dieu de France, as well as on every inhabitant of Zahlé who refuses to see this long-standing heritage crumble without lifting a finger”, stressing that “first and foremost, the work of hospitals is a humanitarian one, and the health of the motherland is equivalent to that of the citizen”. He concludes: “Ambition is a legitimate right of every human being. It is even a necessity and a need in order to progress and move forward”.

For his part, the Director General of Hôtel Dieu, Mr. Nassib Nasr, underlined in his words the importance of cooperation between the two hospitals, especially today, "whether at Hôtel Dieu de France or at Hôpital Tel Chiha, the pioneering vision and firm commitment have always been present", adding that "for all these reasons, we had to strengthen our relationship and share our energy, our competence and our experience for the benefit of all the inhabitants of the Bekaa region|". He concludes by saying: “As of today, Hôpital Tel Chiha in Zahlé joins the largest hospital network in Lebanon, which includes Hotel Dieu de France in Beirut, Hôpital Saint Charles in Fayadieh and Hôpital Monsieur Qartbawi in Adma”. This speech was followed by a documentary telling the story of the Hôtel Dieu de France and its development throughout history, as well as the services it provides.

The Rector of Saint-Joseph University in Beirut and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Hôtel Dieu de France, Prof. Salim Daccache, s.j, spoke in his speech about the message carried by Hôpital Tel Chiha and Hôtel Dieu and its importance for the Bekaa region. "As Saint Joseph University, we will do everything possible within the network of the Hôtel Dieu de France and the Jesuit University to preserve this message as well as the spiritual, human, Christian and Catholic values ​​on which the hospital was founded, drawing its message from the diocesan Church”. He then concludes by saying, “through its various institutions, the Jesuit spirituality will remain here in Zahlé, in Taanayel, and in the plain of the Bekaa. As you know, during the second half of the 19th century, many martyrs perished in these lands. Therefore, we care about retaining this testimony by continuing to preserve this message and to provide care services.

Afterwards, Bishop Ibrahim Mikhael Ibrahim began his speech with a few lines from a poem written by the poet Elia Abu Madi. Afterwards, he addressed the initiative undertaken by the hospital, stressing its importance in improving the hospital situation in the region. He concluded by thanking "all those who have made the glory of Hôpital Tel Chiha since its creation until the date when I took the reins. I also thank all those who helped me put an end to the debts that were accumulated and supported me to embark on this path which has allowed us to move forward and evolve to this historic and blessed day”. After Bishop Ibrahim's speech, a documentary narrating the story of Hôpital Tel Chiha was screened, going through the stages of its creation and development.

For his part, Patriarch Youssef Absi welcomed the important initiative that Zahlé is witnessing, stressing that "what we are witnessing here today is not an ordinary, simple, and ephemeral case. This is an opportunity like no other. It is undoubtedly the result of tireless efforts and serious studies, for which those who have facilitated and accomplished them deserve praise”. The Patriarch ended his speech by saying that: “Hôpital Tel Chiha is as a mirror for all the inhabitants of Zahlé, one in which they see themselves and are proud of. It is one of the symbols, one of the addresses whose name and fame have been associated with that of Zahlé for decades”. At the end, Father Daccache handed over the plaques of the Centenary of Hôtel-Dieu in honor of Patriarch Youssef Absi and Bishop Ibrahim Mikhael Ibrahim, after which the protocol was signed and a wine of honor was served.