Jerusalem Hospital Set to Dismiss Director Rothstein After Tumultuous Tenure

Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati
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Prof. Zeev Rothstein
Prof. Zeev RothsteinCredit: Tomer Appelbaum
Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati

The board of Jerusalem's Hadassah University Medical Center has summoned its high-profile director, Prof. Zeev Rothstein, for a pre-dismissal hearing on Sunday, with sources at the hospital accusing him of harming the proper functioning of the institution. 

The hearing is expected to result in immediate termination of Rothstein’s employment, ending a tumultuous four-and-a-half-year tenure at Hadassah. The board of directors did not provide the reason for seeking to fire Rothstein, who joined the hospital following 11 years as director of the Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer.

Since his appointment in 2016, his time at the helm at Hadassah was fraught with infighting and conflict that shook up the hospital, which was in serious financial straits. The institution was kept afloat thanks to a recovery program and an infusion of more than a billion shekels ($300 million) in Israeli government funding. 

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“It has been unanimously decided to summon Prof. Rothstein to a hearing to consider terminating his employment at Hadassah,” the board said in a statement. “Out of respect for Rothstein and the confidentiality of the proceeding, we will not be able to elaborate further. The only thing of importance to the board is the future of Hadassah Hospital and the wellbeing of the hundreds of thousands of patients treated there.”

During his time at Hadassah, Rothstein butted heads with the New York-based Hadassah Women’s Zionist Organization of America, which owns the hospital, with Finance Ministry officials and with the hospital’s employees, including senior physicians on the hospital’s staff.

One notable confrontation, with the staff of the pediatric hemato-oncology department at Hadassah Hospital at Ein Kerem ended with the resignation of all of the department’s doctors, undermining the quality of care for many young patients and outraging their parents and members of the public.

Hadassah hospital board chairmwoman Dalia ItzikCredit: Michal Fattal

Over the years, Rothstein was the target of complaints from both inside Hadassah and from the outside. He was accused of giving priority treatment to some patients, including the leader of the Ger Hasidic community. Rothstein was also accused of doing what he pleased and of disrespecting employees.

In 2019, the Hadassah Women’s Zionist Organization and the directors general of the health and finance ministries called for his dismissal and claimed that his conduct was driving away donors. Tensions rose further in March of this year following the appointment of Dalia Itzik, a former speaker of the Knesset, as chairwoman of the hospital’s board. Although Rothstein didn’t publicly oppose her appointment, it was expected that she would try to fire him.

“They gave [him] numerous opportunities,” one hospital source said. “He is disparaging and thinks he is above everyone else and does things as he sees fit. His conduct is impairing the functioning of the hospital.”

Rothstein did not provide a response for this article.

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