For afflicted hospital, no ready cure
Hebrew media review

For afflicted hospital, no ready cure

Medical and administrative staff at Hadassah step up strike; IDF and Shaked Committee spar over draft details

Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.

Jerusalem's Hadassah Ein-Kerem Hospital on February 9, 2014. The sign reads 'Hadassah is closed! Please contact the government.' (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Jerusalem's Hadassah Ein-Kerem Hospital on February 9, 2014. The sign reads 'Hadassah is closed! Please contact the government.' (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The morning after a Jerusalem court approved a stay of proceedings and appointed trustees for the city’s two Hadassah hospitals, Wednesday’s papers focus on the employees’ intensified strike efforts. Spurning the hospitals’ conciliatory gestures and insisting their salaries be paid in full, medical and administrative staff go into “emergency mode” and limit treatment solely to critical cases.

Israel Hayom quotes nurses union chairwoman Ilana Cohen on the cutbacks implemented. Cohen described the overall attitude among workers toward the strike as reluctant, but stressed that the staff will do all that is necessary to pressure the hospital.

“We are compounding our efforts and will [work on] an emergency basis,” she said. “We are leaving a small staff for life-saving [procedures] only. Whoever wants the sanctions to stop needs to pay salaries… If someone is paying half a salary, we’ll do half a job. No one wants to strike.”

Hadassah’s director general, Dr. Avigdor Kaplan, appealed to the nurses and administrative staff to end the strike, and implied that the option of taking legal measures against them has not been ruled out.

“Return to work and return to the negotiating table in order to advance the recovery plan,” he said. “We hope the employees return to work and that we needn’t file an injunction [against them]. We will do all we can to avoid that.”

The paper also ranks the top “inflated” salaries of doctors at Hadassah hospital, whose large incomes presumably took a heavy toll on the hospital budget.  A world-renowned ophthalmologist leads with a NIS 5.5 million ($1.56 million) annual salary; another ophthalmologist is in second place with a salary of NIS 4.56 million; and a senior orthopedist receives the third-highest salary at NIS 4.5 million.

Yedioth Ahronoth also follows the money trail for Hadassah and attributes its current crisis, in part, to former director Professor Shlomo Mor Yosef. In a feature entitled, Their collapse, his profits,” the paper asserts that Mor Yosef accepted yearly bonuses from 2006 to 2011 of some NIS 1.8 million on top of his handsome salary, and left the hospital with a NIS 850 million deficit.

“The crisis in Hadassah did not materialize out of thin air and many see its roots in the decade of 2001-2011, the years that Professor Shlomo Mor Yosef headed the hospital,” it reports.

Barbara Goldstein, 72, a Hadassah representative in Israel, told Yedioth that “we were very surprised at how high the deficit is.” Goldstein defended the women’s organization’s role in the crisis and insisted that the Israeli government is to blame for its present financial state.

“The deficit was created because of the state management, and not because there is no money from Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, and the state must cover the deficit,” she said.

Haaretz describes the struggle of Jerusalem’s second-largest hospital, Shaare Zedek, in absorbing the influx of patients who were denied treatment at Hadassah’s two hospitals.

“The main load is in the emergency rooms, with an increase of 20-25 percent. It has been ongoing for five days already, and we saw signs of it last week,” said Yonatan Halevi, executive director of the hospital. “As a result we have seen a 10% increase in surgeries. I hope it does not persist, but we are absorbing them very nicely, withstanding the pressure, and increasing the staff of doctors and nurses.”

Maariv highlights a member of the Hadassah janitorial staff, 52-year-old Jamal Abosnina, who was informed unofficially that he is slated to be fired in the new round of layoffs. Abosnina, a father of seven, has been employed at Hadassah for 13 years. This past month, he received half of his paycheck, amounting to NIS 2,700.

“Hadassah is like family. I don’t see my kids [as frequently] as I see my friends at Hadassah. It’s like my home,” Abosnina said.

“I believe there is a God that helps all, including Hadassah. He controls livelihood, but it’s still painful that after all these years they throw me out like a soda can in the trash.”

Army and Shaked Committee butt heads

The Hebrew papers also focus on the backlash to the Shaked Committee’s resolution to scale back IDF service for noncombat male soldiers by four months. Flying in the face of IDF recommendations, the committee decided not to extend service for female soldiers to supplement the sudden loss of manpower that a previously approved shorter service for men would entail.

Jewish Home MK Ayelet Shaked, March 11, 2013 (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Jewish Home MK Ayelet Shaked, March 11, 2013 (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Haaretz quotes an unnamed defense official who said that “not extending service for women damages the IDF.” He also claimed that the army has not yet given up on pushing for longer service for women.

Sources close to Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon told the paper that Ya’alon is requesting a revote, and said that they “can’t let something already agreed upon go down the drain.”

In Yedioth Ahronoth, MK Ayelet Shaked dismisses the IDF’s criticism of the move.

“We did not vote against extending the women’s service, but rather we demanded the security forces propose an alternative,” she said.

“Elected officials who need to see to the general public’s needs don’t have to say ‘Amen’ to every request from the IDF. The army always requests more resources and more manpower, but we need to understand all the ramifications before we approve its request.”

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