Sheba Medical Center
Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer. Photo by Tomer Appelbaum
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Sheba Medical Center director Prof. Zeev Rotstein undoubtedly had no sense of just how grating the memo he sent out to employees of the hospital at the end of last week was - the memo in which he boasted about having assigned a top medical team to former Teva CEO Eli Hurvitz during his final days, and having "prepared special treatment" for him as is customary "always in such cases."

Without going into the details of the regrettable conflict that has emerged between the late Hurvitz's daughter and the hospital management, and without knowing if Hurvitz did indeed receive very dedicated care, as Rotstein said, or was neglected, as claimed by his daughter, the fact that a hospital director sees the administering of preferential treatment to the famous and influential as the norm is infuriating and worrying. This favoritism, to which many senior medical establishment officials freely admit, is another layer in the distorted structure of private medicine that is rapidly taking root in the public health system, and at its expense.

Rotstein was correct in saying that Hurvitz was "a special man of quality." Testimony to this is Hurvitz's request, which Rotstein also took the trouble to quote, that he be treated just as any other person because he is "a regular man." This request finely expresses the concept that the public health system is supposed to afford every patient the care he requires in keeping with his needs and condition, and not his position or pocket.

In light of the sorry state of affairs with regard to hospital admissions and the shortage of beds, nurses and doctors, dedicating special time, thought and attention to a preferential patient creates immediate discrimination, which expresses severe contempt for the value of human beings. Professional medical considerations are replaced by extraneous ones, such as the link between money and power, and the attempt to curry favor with the privileged and their families, while the "run-of-the-mill" patient is shunted to the back of the priority line - which could cost him his health and his life.

The protekzia phenomenon is not a new one, and is tough to eradicate; and private health care for the rich is already a fact. Health system officials who are concerned about the future image of public medicine must do everything in their power to ensure that these two unacceptable phenomena do not wipe out what still remains of the good Israeli public health system.

קראו כתבה זו בעברית: טיפול - לא למיוחסים בלבד