Six senior doctors from Jerusalem’s only ward treating children with leukemia and other severe blood diseases resigned Sunday over a dispute with hospital management.
The head of the pediatric hemato-oncology unit at Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center and five other senior doctors from the unit announced their resignation in a surprise move Sunday.
The unit treats children with blood cancers like luekemia and lymphoma as well as severe non-malignant blood diseases, and is the only one like it in the capital.
Department head Prof. Michael Weintraub and five other doctors — all of the senior physicians in the ward — announced their resignation due to a running conflict with hospital CEO Zeev Rotstein.
The doctors said in a statement that six months ago the department had raised their concerns with the hospital. They blamed the hospital management for what they described as a severe failure in refusing to invest in the staff.
The statement contained no further details on their argument with management.
Families of patients protested outside the Health Ministry, holding signs in support of the doctors. Many spoke in support for Weintraub and the team.
One mother of a patient who has been receiving treatment in the unit for over 15 years, told the Hebrew-language Ynet news site that the ward becomes a family’s second home and an essential part of their support system.
“My son was diagnosed with cancer when he was four months old,” Sarah Pinto said. “After one complicated operation, Prof. Weintraub explained to us the course of treatment, the symptoms, along with all the other expectations. He warned us [the ward] would become our home in the coming months.”
“Thanks to him, and the team of doctors, nurses, secretaries and social workers, we have been wrapped in love, and were given professional treatment and compassionate understanding.”
Another parent of a former patient echoed Pinto’s experiences.
“Unfortunately the department becomes a second home for families,” said Gatit Medini, whose daughter passed away from cancer four years ago. “But it becomes a home in the full sense of the word. The team led by Dr. Weintraub gave us the strength to cope with the difficult reality we faced.”
“Please save this dear and special team who work day and night for the children,” Medini in commentes directed at the Hadassah’s CEO.
The hospital said in a statement that “management will do everything possible to ensure that no child is hurt by this collective resignation.”
Weintraub, did not say when the resignation would take effect. He said the doctors who were leaving would try to minimize harm to the patients.
“In the coming months we will invest the maximum effort to take care of an orderly transfer of patients to the teams who will take on the responsibility to care for children — between Hadassah and other centers,” he said in a statement.
Health Minister Yaakov Litzman instructed his staff to work with the hospital to ensure continuous care for the patients, the ministry said in a statement.
His ministry said that it has been working for a long time to try to resolve the issues between the department head and the hospital management.