The former director of two Hadassah medical centers in Jerusalem defended his 11-year term in office despite the organization’s current financial crisis and accused Hadassah Women’s Zionist Organization, which owns and funds the Israeli medical organization, of misleading the courts with “biased and inaccurate information” about how the hospitals reached the brink of bankruptcy.
During a meeting of the Knesset Finance Committee on Wednesday, Shlomo Mor-Yosef, today the director of Israel’s National Insurance Institute, gave his version of how two of Israel’s preeminent hospital campuses, on Mount Scopus and at Ein Karem, reached a deficit of NIS 1.7 billion ($482 million).
“Hadassah [Women's Zionist Organization of America's] presentation [of the evidence] to the court and the [Knesset] Finance Committee is biased and inaccurate information in the guise of an objective document,” Mor-Yosef said during the Wednesday meeting. “They portray the previous management as the root of the problem and forget that the owner and the [state] Treasury are part of the problem.”
He added that the Hadassah organization “significantly reduced their contributions, saw the organization’s situation worsen and did not lift a finger. They opposed any attempts by me to raise money. They only wanted their way. The Treasury was aware of the deterioration. In 2008 we presented the situation to the finance minister.”
Mor-Yosef went on to categorically deny accusations that he received millions in bonuses from the organization before leaving it NIS 850 million ($242 million) in debt, and framed the accusations against him as attempts to shift the focus away from the underlying systemic problems that led to the situation at Hadassah.
“Anybody familiar with the system understands that this is a personal attack, vicious, orchestrated and organized, in order to switch the problem from something national to something personal,” Mor-Yosef said. “You want to check the terms of my retirement? Please [go ahead]… They talk about the bonuses, but there is one thing they don’t mention: I didn’t take the bonuses that they offered me. They are still at Hadassah.”
In an interview with Channel 2 on Wednesday Barbara Goldstein, deputy director of Hadassah, denied Mor-Yosef’s allegations and said that the Hadassah leadership had already begun to question the situation five years ago. Goldstein noted that, as a result, the hospitals are now under new directorship and added that reports of exceptionally high wages among some of the senior doctors is a matter that will be dealt with as part of an ongoing rehabilitation program.
Mor-Yosef’s comments came after a Wednesday report by the Hebrew daily Yedioth Ahronoth, based on financial documents, that allegedly showed that Hadassah voluntarily awarded him bonuses totaling NIS 1.8 million ($510,000) over the last several years of his tenure before he departed in 2011, on top of a retirement agreement worth millions, despite the company being NIS 850 million in debt at the time.
In addition to denying the allegations, Mor-Yosef insisted that he had done a good job while managing Hadassah.
“I’ve been in the public realm for many years — four years as an outstanding director at Soroka [Medical Center], 11 years as an outstanding director at Hadassah and now two years as director of the National Insurance Institute,” Mor-Yosef said. “Over 11 years, I brought Hadassah to great heights… I was party to raising funds in excess of over a billion and a half shekels. During my time I oversaw the construction of the [Davidson Hospital Tower] that will be the foundation of medical treatment in Jerusalem for the next 50 years; this I did in partnership with the Health Ministry and Treasury.”
Hadassah hospitals in Jerusalem were still in a state of disarray Wednesday following a Jerusalem District Court decision this week to grant the hospital administration’s request for a stay of proceedings, temporarily protecting them from creditors, and to appoint two trustees to formulate a rehabilitation plan for the hospitals.
The decision was a victory for the medical centers. For the next 90 days, they will be able to continue operations under their current management, led by current director Dr. Avigdor Kaplan, but their creditors will not be able to collect on any debts. Hospital employees will, on average, receive 90 percent of their salaries.
However, following the decision administrative and medical staff intensified their strikes and were only performing emergency procedures on Wednesday.
“We’re prepared to sit down and negotiate tonight, but we won’t do it so long as the full salaries of the workers haven’t been paid,” Ilana Cohen, head of the nurses’ union, was quoted by Maariv saying.
Meanwhile, as part of its decision, the court appointed trustees Lipa Meir, who was hand-picked by Hadassah, and Asher Axelrod, who will have the authority to unilaterally change the collective agreements of employees.
The Israel Medical Association had objected to Meir as a trustee due to his affiliation with Clalit Health Services, one of Hadassah’s biggest creditors. In appointing the trustees, Mintz said that Meir’s familiarity with the company would be an asset, but in order to address a potential conflict of interest, he appointed a second trustee, Axelrod, an attorney, who will have to decide today whether to accept the appointment.
“We are happy that the judge understood that there must be both sides in order to reach an agreement and that Lipa, with all due respect, is not the only trustee in light of the conflict of interest,” the IMA said in a statement.
The trustees are required to notify the court within five days what kind of protection they will offer insured creditors, how they intend to resolve the issues of employee liability and how to pay for malpractice insurance.