Hadassah Medical Center's Interim Chairman Quits

Avi Balashnikov steps down amid growing chaos at Jerusalem hospital; Hadassah women's organization is eyeing three candidates for key post of chairman.

Shiran Granot

The chaos at Jerusalem’s Hadassah University Hospital grew worse over the weekend after the medical center’s acting chairman abruptly resigned, along with a second board member, leaving the financially troubled institution leaderless.

Avi Balashnikov said he stepped down because Health Minister Yael German had failed to find a permanent chairman in time for the Sunday deadline he had set last week. In addition, Israeli director Moti Debi also resigned over the weekend.

“Balashnikov said that stabilizing the hospital is more important now than ever, and expressed hope that, by taking this step, the Hadassah women’s organization and the government will be moved to appoint a permanent chairman as soon as possible,” Debi said in a statement.

The renowned Jerusalem medical institution is struggling with huge debts and implementing a recovery plan that includes hundreds of millions of shekels in government aid. But the recovery effort has been undercut by administrative chaos, as well as internecine fighting between Hadassah’s administration, doctors, the union, the Hadassah organization and the government.

The hospital is currently being run by an acting director general, Tamar Peretz, because the board has not found anyone to fill the job permanently.

Suppliers have been expressing new doubts about the medical center’s financial condition, saying they have not been getting paid. The Clalit health maintenance organization has reportedly delayed making payments it owes Hadassah. In recent weeks, eight senior doctors have quit, among them department heads and star physicians.

Yesterday, the Hadassah women’s organization told the government it had three candidates in mind for the post of chairman.

The first is Eyal Gabbai, 47, a former government official who is now acting as court-appointed trustee over the IDB group. He previous ran the Prime Minister’s Office and headed the Government Companies Authority.

The second candidate is David Blumberg, a former chairman of Bank of Jerusalem. Today he chairs the Israel Credit Insurance Company and is a director of U-Bank and Africa Israel Investments. The third, Erez Meltzer, is a former CEO of Netafim, Africa Israel and Gadot Chemicals.

German will meet with the three men over the next several days, after which, under the terms of the recovery plan, the directors general of the finance and health ministries will select a candidate for approval by the Hadassah board.

The two ministries are putting great store in stabilizing the board, which was assigned a key role in helping revive the financially beleaguered institution under the recovery program. The program calls for a nine-member board – four Israelis appointed by a public committee, four others named by the Hadassah women’s organization, and an Israeli chairman.