With Coronavirus Wards at Capacity, Two Israeli Hospitals Turn Away Patients

As new infections continue to rise, Defense Ministry decides to set up a field hospital of 200 beds

Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati
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A coronavirus patient is being brought in to the Shaare Tzedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, September 2020.
A coronavirus patient is being brought in to the Shaare Tzedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, September 2020.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati

Two major hospitals stopped admitting coronavirus patients on Sunday, after their wards reserved for such patients reached capacity.

The two institutions are the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem and the Assuta Medical Center in Ashdod. Shaare Tzedek has two coronavirus wards, which can treat 70 patients. It is currently in the process of building another, which would almost double its capacity to 130 patients – but it will only open after the Sukkot holidays, in the first half of October.

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The news comes as the government debates further tightening of restrictions during its second coronavirus lockdown, which took effect September 18, but has yet to halt the rise in infections. Some, including coronavirus chief Prof. Ronni Gamzu, argue it is too early to measure the success of the current policy.

On Monday afternoon, the Defense Ministry also decided to set up a field hospital of 200 beds. Defense Minister Benny Gantz instructed the military to begin assigning doctors, nurses and paramedics from the IDF. 

Over the holiday weekend, hospitals were instructed to open additional coronavirus wards, at the expense of internal medicine departments. 

Western Galilee Hospital in Nahariya also announced on Monday that it would postpone elective surgeries that do not involve medical emergencies.

“We will have to use anesthetists as part of the team treating difficult and critical coronavirus patients, so we will have no choice but to postpone elective surgery,” said the hospital’s director.

Israel Police enforcing a coronavirus lockdown at a checkpoint in Jerusalem, September 21, 2020.
Israel Police enforcing a coronavirus lockdown at a checkpoint in Jerusalem, September 21, 2020.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

In the three coronavirus wards of the hospital, 89 patients are currently hospitalized, of whom 33 are in serious condition, including 14 on ventilators. The hospital is expected to open a fourth COVID-19 ward tomorrow.

According to data presented by Health Ministry director general Chezy Levy, the number of patients in serious condition is expected to rise by a whopping 200-300 over the next 10 days. As of September 21 in the afternoon, it stood at 651

Yaniv Kubovich and Amos Harel contributed to this report.

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