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Rivlin pleads with government to resolve hospital budget crisis

President meets with directors of 6 medical centers, warns there is ‘no time to waste’

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

President Reuven Rivlin, center, meets with the heads of hospitals to discuss financial crisis threatening their collapse, at the President's Residence in Jerusalem, January 18, 2021. (Haim Zach/GPO)
President Reuven Rivlin, center, meets with the heads of hospitals to discuss financial crisis threatening their collapse, at the President's Residence in Jerusalem, January 18, 2021. (Haim Zach/GPO)

President Reuven Rivlin on Monday called on the government to immediately resolve a budgeting crisis for the country’s seven private hospitals, which have warned that if they are not given state funding they will be forced to go into emergency mode this week and provide only life-saving services.

“I call from here on the Israeli government, on those who head it and the ministers of finance and health: Intervene in this crisis now,” Rivlin said as he met with medical center directors, according to a statement from his office. “The hospital heads need the budgetary issues resolved, allowing their teams to deal with the patients.”

Private hospitals say they have been impacted by the ongoing coronavirus outbreak and are demanding funding on an equal footing with state-run hospitals, which, they claim, receive billions of shekels in financing from the government.

All the country’s hospitals have been straining under the burden of the coronavirus outbreak as staff try to continue regular services while also caring for virus patients in special wards that require more manpower per patient. The hospitals have at times hit or exceeded their maximum capacity.

“We cannot allow our private hospitals to collapse,” Rivlin urged. “We cannot allow the coronavirus to defeat our hospitals. The budgetary discrepancy must be resolved. It must be fundamentally resolved at the level of infrastructure, and at the same time, there needs to be an immediate emergency response.”

Participating in the meeting were the heads of Hadassah Hospital, Shaare Zedek Medical Center, EMMS Nazareth Hospital, Mayanei HaYeshua Medical Center, Laniado Hospital, and the Saint-Louis French Hospital.

Describing private hospitals as “orphans,” Hadassah director Ze’ev Rotstein told Rivlin that the state treats the organizations “ungratefully because they have no ‘parents.'”

“When we get into economic difficulties because of this emergency, we have to ask for donations, whereas the government hospitals get payments from the state,” Rotstein said. “It’s absurd.”

“We are struggling to survive,” said Shaare Zedek director Ofer Marin. “As we face both regular patients and the coronavirus, we are collapsing. There are seven hospitals whose budget runs out every month. We aren’t paying suppliers, there’s no money for salaries. It’s in the hands of the finance minister.”

Last week the hospital heads, as well as the director of the Holy Family Hospital, demonstrated outside the Finance Ministry in Jerusalem where they warned they are facing financial collapse and that by this Wednesday they will be forced to offer only life-saving treatments.

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