Amid Hadassah Crisis, Hundreds of Staff Spend Night at Hospital Entrance

Healthy Ministry director general has forbidden government hospitals from hiring doctors and nurses who leave the crisis-stricken Hadassah Medical Center.

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The Health Ministry director general has written to all government hospital heads prohibiting them from hiring doctors and nurses who leave Hadassah Medical Center.

The letter comes in the midst of weeks of protests and sanctions by Hadassah staff after the financially strapped hospital failed to pay them their full salaries for January.

Hundreds of Hadassah staff members were planning to sleep Tuesday night in the hospital’s entrance hall in protest of the situation.

According to Health Ministry sources, Health Ministry Director General Ronni Gamzu’s letter is intended to prevent a situation where hospitals encourage Hadassah doctors and nurses to resign, which would harm both patients and the hospital.

Hadassah’s unions say dozens of doctors and an unknown number of nurses have expressed their desire to leave their jobs at the medical center due to the financial crisis, the most severe the hospital has ever faced. Meanwhile, other hospitals are reportedly offering incentives to entice Hadassah staffers, such as higher salaries and better conditions, including longer annual vacation.

Gamzu threatened sanctions against hospital directors who ignored his instructions. “I will not hesitate to prevent hospitals that do not cooperate in the matter from receiving additional resources, and support,” he wrote. Gamzu also sent a letter to the CEO of Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, Dr. Jonathan Halevy, and to the deputy director of hospitals of the Clalit HMO, Dr. Miki Saraf, who are not under his authority in this realm. He wrote that while he could not legally compel them to follow his directive, “We all have a heavy responsibility to act responsibly to restore Hadassah to health.”

Gamzu’s letter might satisfy Hadassah Medical Center’s management, but not everyone in the healthcare system views it positively. The chairman of the Organization of Government-Employed Physicians, Dr. Nimrod Rahamimov, called the letter ”a dangerous opening to violation of freedom of livelihood for all doctors.” The chairwoman of Hadassah Medical Center’s nurses’ union, Tzila Gera, said, “Gamzu’s letter cannot be enforced. It is just words. The fact is, nurses are leaving Hadassah and are being hired in hospitals in the center of the country. If Gamzu wants to stop doctors and nurses from leaving, he should work harder so that a solution is found to Hadassah’s severe financial distress and for the salaries of the employees, which have not been paid in full.”

Striking staff at Hadassah hospital. Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

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