Israel Medical Association Threatens Hadassah Work Action if Non-physician Takes Over

Clal Insurance's Avigdor Kaplan has already been chosen to take over at the ailing Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem.

The Israel Medical Association is considering a labor action at Jerusalem's Hadassah Medical Center to protest Avigdor Kaplan's appointment as director general – the first time a non-physician has been put in charge of an Israeli hospital.

Hadassah Medical Center, which operates Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem, and Hadassah University Hospital, Mount Scopus, declined to comment.

Weeks ago, IMA chairman Leonid Eidelman warned Hadassah's search committee not to choose a candidate who wasn't a doctor, citing concerns that financial considerations would take priority over medical ones. He threatened sanctions if a non-physician was chosen.

In a letter Tuesday to hospital staff, acting director general Dr. Yuval Weiss said the organization would appoint a medical director who was a doctor, but the IMA rejected the compromise.

Kaplan, 73, chairman and CEO of Clal Insurance Enterprises Holdings for 16 years, has tendered his resignation to the company's controlling owner Nochi Dankner but is expected to retain the role of nonexecutive chairman for up to six months. His arrival at Hadassah coincides with the institution's deep financial crisis.

Hadassah's previous director general, Prof. Ehud Kokia, resigned nearly four months ago due to what was termed an "unexpected deficit" of NIS 200 million. The Hadassah Women’s Zionist Organization of America, which owns the medical center, then decided to take steps to revamp the organization with the help of international consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Early this week, Weiss told staff that painful cutbacks were needed to overcome the organization's financial woes, including layoffs of possibly 200 employees. Hospital managers also confirmed that they were nearing agreement with the finance minister for receiving a NIS 50 million grant.

Kaplan has long been a prominent figure in Israel's medical world. Before Clal he served five years as director general of the Clalit health maintenance organization, Israel's largest HMO.

Tess Scheflan
Ofer Vaknin