Hadassah on the rocks
Hebrew media review

Hadassah on the rocks

Doctors threaten to throw down their stethoscopes; MKs propose cutting IDF service for men

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

Workers from Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital protesting outside the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem over its funding crisis, on Sunday, February 9, 2014. (Photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Workers from Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital protesting outside the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem over its funding crisis, on Sunday, February 9, 2014. (Photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Hadassah Hospital’s fiscal crisis drags on, and the court proceedings are the Hebrew media’s top priority Tuesday as hospital officials say the medical center is broke — so strapped for cash, in fact, that they can’t pay their employees and might not be able to pay professional insurance for the doctors.

Haaretz reports that Dr. Leonid Eidelman, head of the doctors’ union, said Hadassah health care providers would walk out if the management stopped paying their malpractice insurance. Such a development may occur if the Jerusalem District Court orders a stay of proceedings. (The court ordered a stay on Tuesday, but gave two trustees a few days to determine how to handle insurance during the interim period of court-ordered restructuring.)

“The doctors won’t work a minute without insurance,” he said. “If there’s a decision [to order] a stay of proceedings and the state doesn’t take responsibility — the doctors won’t even dispense medicine.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s statements about the ongoing crisis at Hadassah lead Maariv‘s coverage. “There was an administrative failure at Hadassah; the public will be forced to pay the price,” Netanyahu said in a statement. The paper quotes the employees’ lawyer telling the court that 70% of the hospital’s total debts are to its workers.

Ran Reznick writes in Israel Hayom that the entire situation is the failure of the Health Ministry and Hadassah. “The Health Ministry administration, for its part, never tried to enforce or impose, if need be, significant oversight on Hadassah Hospital,” he writes.

“Even in the past year, after very serious complaints were already published about the management of private health care services at Hadassah, and criticism of this issue was even raised by the state comptroller, [Health Ministry Director] Professor [Roni] Gamzu and Health Minister Yael German didn’t act to implement significant regulation at Hadassah,” he says.

Haaretz’s editorial is a blistering criticism of what it makes out to be a greedy, mismanaged workforce at Hadassah. Its bottom line, however, is that despite the grossly overpaid employees of the hospital, “Hadassah runs two major Jerusalem medical centers and cannot be allowed to collapse.”

“The state has no choice but to shell out huge sums of money in grants and loans in an effort to get the medical organization back on its feet,” Haaretz says. “But these taxpayer funds must only be provided on condition that all the hospital employees agree to a painful recovery plan.”

It envisions a plan which “must include dismissals at all levels and in all departments; eliminating exceptional wage components; reduced wages for everyone; canceling the free medical care benefits; reducing operating expenses; the sale of real estate; and proposals for increasing revenues.”

An uphill battle is also raging between MKs over the issue of amending the mandatory service laws. “The people’s army is breaking up,” reads a headline in Yedioth Ahronoth. The paper reports that after a “stormy meeting” of the Knesset committee dealing with the draft issue, it resolved that Hesder yeshiva students will serve a four-year term, of which 17 months will be in the IDF and 31 will be engaged in studying. It says the decision was made in opposition to the stance of Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, who sought a 50-50 split between military service and studies.

Israel Hayom reports that the committee also agreed to reduce men’s service length from 36 months to 32 months, a move which requires Knesset approval. A similar proposal to extend women’s mandatory service from 24 to 28 months was shot down.

Maariv’s main coverage of the issue is a long-winded over-detailed ramble about the political power plays by the various factions in the committee. Itai Ben-Horin writes in the paper, however, that the bottom line of the committee’s decision is bad for those who seek equality in IDF draft legislation.

“The present government’s first year was the worst for the issue of enlistment in recent years. The future looks even worse,” he writes. “Even if we assume that when the law takes effect in 2017 it will be a certain improvement, the likelihood that the law won’t be dismissed once again is zero,” he writes.

Retired top cop Menashe Arviv also speaks to Yedioth Ahronoth following his resignation from the police amid a growing corruption scandal involving prominent Kabbalist Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto. He spoke with the paper while taking his kids to the beach, saying he was now enjoying civilian life for the first time in 36 years.

“I’m sorry about one thing only,” he told the paper. “Three years ago I was having a personal crisis, and on Saturday night a friend said to me, ‘Come, there’s some rabbi who will advise you, who’ll tell you [what to do].’ I am sorry about that Saturday night that I met Rabbi Pinto, but that’s it. Nothing beyond that. I never did anything against the law, against the rules, against orders. Nothing, my entire life.”

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