Hadassah chief Rotstein pushed out of position

Medical organization’s CEO, accused of years of financial mismanagement, reportedly reached retirement agreement with board

Prof. Zeev Rotstein, CEO of Hadassah Hospital  speaks during a press conference at the Hadassah Ein Karem hospital in Jerusalem on November 1, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Prof. Zeev Rotstein, CEO of Hadassah Hospital speaks during a press conference at the Hadassah Ein Karem hospital in Jerusalem on November 1, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The CEO of the Hadassah Medical Organization, Prof. Zeev Rotstein, left his post on Monday after having been recently summoned to a dismissal hearing over his management.

Rotstein, who held the director’s position for five and a half years, negotiated an agreement for his retirement with the Hadassah board.

The deal included a golden parachute whose terms weren’t specified.

Yoram Weiss, director of Hadassah Medical Center Ein Kerem, will fill the position of CEO until the board finds someone to permanently fill the role.

Aside from Weiss, a leading candidate for the position is Osnat Levtzion-Korach, the former director of Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus, who is current director of Shamir (Assaf Harofeh) Medical Center, according to Haaretz.

Rotstein announced his retirement earlier this month at a gathering of senior Hadassah hospital officials, just hours before a hearing on his potential firing.

Rotstein had been summoned for the hearing a week earlier, after five tumultuous years in which he repeatedly sparred with numerous officials in the hospitals under his management.

During his tenure, he became embroiled in conflicts with the medical organization’s owners and board of directors, Finance Ministry officials, senior doctors and hospital employees. In one case, all the doctors in the pediatric hematology and oncology department quit over a dispute with him.

Rotstein’s conduct drew criticism, including over his alleged facilitation of VIP treatment for various officials, including top Hasidic figures when the ultra-Orthodox Knesset member Yaakov Litzman was health minister.

Rotstein became Hadassah CEO in January 2016, after managing Sheba Medical Center for over a decade.

Hadassah Medical Center consists of several care and teaching centers across Jerusalem, including two large hospital complexes — one in Ein Kerem, at the southwest end of the city, and the other on Mount Scopus, at the northeast point. Hadassah has over 1,000 hospital beds, several operating rooms and intensive care units.

Hadassah Medical Organization, a public benefit company, owns and operates Hadassah Medical Center, with all its hospitals and services. Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, is the primary patron of the company, holding a third of the seats on Hadassah’s board of directors and contributing regularly to its budget via donations and fundraising.

Following years of financial mismanagement, Hadassah had accumulated a deficit of close to NIS 1 billion ($281 million) by 2014. Unable to pay salaries and with debts accumulating, the hospital was close to ceasing operations.

In 2014, Hadassah Women reached a bailout agreement that would provide the hospital with a total of NIS 3.3 billion ($930 million) over seven years to enable it to become financially independent and sustainable.

As part of the agreement, Israel had agreed to invest a total of nearly NIS 1.5 billion ($422 million) during that period. Most of the bailout would come through direct payments to the hospital, and some through grants and the freezing of existing debts to government-owned suppliers.

Hadassah Women, for its part, committed to investing nearly NIS 700 million ($197 million) over the same period, through one-time grants as well as annual support.

But in 2019, it turned out that Hadassah’s financial situation was even worse than the earlier prediction, and the Finance Ministry at the time summoned Rotstein for questioning as part of an investigation on the matter, including on whether he had inflated doctors’ salaries.

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