Hadassah Trustees: Reach a Deal to Save Hospital or We Liquidate

Histadrut union threatens labor dispute at all public hospitals if solution not found.

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The trustees of the Hadassah Medical Center have had it. If, by next Tuesday, April 29, the sides fail to reach a solution to bail out Hadassah, the trustees threaten to present their own plan, which will not be subject to negotiation; and if that plan is rejected, they'll have the medical center with its two hospitals liquidated.

The trustees, attorneys Lipa Meir and Asher Axelrod, told the Jerusalem District Court that despite intensive negotiations to solve the hospitals’ financial crisis, there have been no breakthroughs.

Hadassah is now under court protection from its creditors, with the three-month freeze scheduled to end on May 11. The trustees also revealed that the state has offered to turn Hadassah into a state-supported institution as a condition for financing its debts, but this would require Hadassah employees to be subject to the wage conditions, regulations and supervision that are the norm at other state owned hospitals.

Hadassah has an accumulated deficit of 1.25 billion shekels ($360 million). Since the court intervened, the medical center’s financial situation has become even more dire, as revenues have declined, partly as a result of a 16-day strike by employees.

The Knesset Finance Committee discussed a treasury-backed proposal to provide 46 million shekels in interim funding for the hospitals to allow them to function until the end of the stay of proceedings.

The Histadrut labor federation also threatened that if a solution is not found, it would declare a labor dispute at all public hospitals, Avi Nisenkorn, the head of the Histadrut’s trade union division, told the committee.

Deputy budgets director in the Finance Ministry, Moshe Bar Siman Tov, told the committee the state is willing to put up money to keep Hadassah operating, even for a longer period of time, but that all parties must cooperate. He said that closing down the hospitals was not an option. The treasury hoped the hospitals would remain independent while remaining their high level of quality medical care, he added.

Hadassah director general Avigdor Kaplan told the committee the negotiations had hit a deadlock, and blamed the Finance Ministry for waiting too long to join the talks and propose solutions. Kaplan said that the treasury is now making new demands that have been rejected by the Histadrut and hospital employees.

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