Tel Aviv Hospital Bars African Migrants From Visiting Patients, Citing Health Concerns

Ichilov director issues instructions to only grant access to migrants in case of emergencies; those who do enter will have to get a chest X-ray to rule out tuberculosis.

The director of Ichilov Medical Center in Tel Aviv announced Monday that entry to the hospital will be denied to African migrants, unless if they are in need of medical attention or hospitalization.

Ichilov director Gabi Barbash issued the new instructions on Monday, in which migrant workers and refugees will only be granted access if they are in need of hospitalization or to be examined in the emergency room.

Also, Husbands of women in labor or parents of children that are hospitalized will be granted entry as long as they are wearing identification tags. Moreover, the hospital decided that all migrant workers and refugees entering the hospital, including those who are admitted for medical care, must get a chest X-ray in order to rule out the possibility that they are carrying tuberculosis.

Ichilov's director also instructed to isolate migrants who are patients in the maternity ward in a separate space.

Children of migrants hospitalized in Dana Children's Hospital in the Ichilov Medical Center Tel Aviv will also be separated from Israeli children in a special ward, according to the instructions. The new guidelines state that the hospital will assess the situation and take extra steps in order to minimize the health risks to our patients and staff."

The instructions were issued a week after a baby carrying tuberculosis was found in the hospital. The six-week girl is currently in isolation in the hospital's intensive care unit. The mother of the baby, a migrant from Eritrea who has active tuberculosis, is hospitalized at the Shmuel Harofeh Hospital in Be'er Yaakov.

Hundreds of children who have come in contact with the baby, whether in the neonatal intensive care unit or in the hospital's emergency room, were summoned to the hospital in order to get tested for tuberculosis, and are receiving antibiotics as a preemptive treatment, in accordance with the results of the tests.

An Ichilov official said that the reason for the new instructions is purely medical and the guidelines are a response to growing concerns of tuberculosis infections. 

The hospitals management has complained for years over the vast amount of medical treatments given to the migrant and refugee population without any financial compensation. Nevertheless, the Treasury claims that the extra cost of treatment for refugees, beyond the hospitals ongoing activity, is negligent.

In a letter distributed to hospital workers, Barbash stated that we are all aware of the new reality forced upon us, due to the massive presence of the illegal migrant worker community in south Tel Aviv. This community numbers close to 100,000 refugees from Africa and lives in poverty, which increases the difficult health problems with which they arrive from their home countries and from their journey."

Read this article in Hebrew

African migrant workers at Ichilov Hospital, Tel Aviv.
Nir Kafri