Yehuda Motro, who has chaired the control committee at financially troubled Hadassah hospital for the past three years, said on Sunday that the deficits on the financial statements submitted to the panel were nowhere near the 1.25 billion shekels ($354.1 million) now being reported.
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“During the tenure of Prof. Shlomo Mor-Yosef as director general, until 2011, we were seeing a deficit of a few million [shekels], a reasonable and manageable amount. There was nothing that would have set off alarm bells. Then, during the term of his successor, Prof. Ehud Kokia, a new number came up and we couldn’t understand where it came from – a deficit of 200 million shekels in 2013. When a third [and current] director general, Avigdor Kaplan, came, all of a sudden they were talking about an accumulated deficit of more than a billion shekels,” Motro said.
The control committee, whose members are not paid for their services, operates independently from the Jerusalem hospital’s board of directors. Motro is an accountant who is the chief internal auditor at Partner Communications.
Hadassah’s financial statements were prepared by leading accounting firms, Motro said, initially by Deloitte Brightman Almagor Brightman and then by KPMG Somekh Chaikin, so he had no reason to suspect anything was amiss. Motro speculated that his committee was not given precise figures to begin with.
“I don’t feel cheated,” Motro explained, “because as I see it, no one planned to mislead or deliberately hide information. There was optimism at Hadassah that Hadassah Women’s Organization would transfer funds, that the new hospital tower would bring in people and that medical tourism would thrive.”
Once the large deficit became apparent, Motro said his committee warned that revenues from private medical services delivered on hospital premises, known by their Hebrew acronym, sharap, were going mostly to the doctors and not to the hospital. The committee, he said, deemed it unacceptable for the doctors “to get rich while the hospital was poor.”
“We heard difficult reports on the conduct of workers’ committees and the hospital’s incompetence in addressing them. When we investigated, it turned out that a maintenance worker at the hospital would fix just one problem a day, more or less, but the hospital said that if they fired him the workers would strike and people could die as a result. It was a Catch-22,” Motro said.
The hospital has also lost a lot of money on its dental school, Motro claimed. In contrast to the medical school, where most instruction is carried out in large classes, dentistry is taught on a one-to-one basis and the equipment is expensive. Annual losses on the school ranged from 10 million shekels to 30 million shekels, Motro said. “I suggested closing the [dental] school since Hadassah is bleeding.”
Motro called the $360 million hospital tower a gorgeous medical and technological facility that was underused.
“It consumes huge amounts of money,” Motro said. “I asked at the time how we could possibly earn enough money from the tower, because the amounts that the government pays for patient hospital stays are low and the corridors are empty. I didn’t get an answer.”