Accountability at Hadassah, Not Just a Bailout

The focus must be on 2001-2011, when Prof. Shlomo Mor Yosef was director general of the Jerusalem hospitals.

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The anarchy, irresponsibility and administrative failure at Hadassah Medical Center surprised the public. No one, even in the health or finance ministries, knew just how deep was the hole in which Jerusalem’s two Hadassah hospitals had sunk: annual losses of 300 million shekels ($85 million) and an accumulated deficit of 1.3 billion shekels.

It is clear that a recovery plan is needed to bring Hadassah into the black and allow the medical center to continue to operate. The Finance Minister – in other words the Israeli public – will put up hundreds of millions of shekels, and employees will have to do their share. That means layoffs, wage cuts, a complete overhaul of terms of employment and of the center’s private medical services (known by the Hebrew acronym Sharap).

But it’s not enough to address the future; an accounting of past actions is also needed. It is inconceivable for labor to pay the price, while management goes scot-free. The focus must be on 2001 to 2011, when Prof. Shlomo Mor Yosef was director general of Hadassah Medical Center. In this period the center’s deficit swelled due to the failures of the management, which sought only to appease labor through unconditional surrender to their demands. It was in this period that the magnificent and megalomaniacal Sarah Wetsman Davidson Tower, which costs 30 million shekels a year to operate, was built.

In light of this mismanagement, Mor Yosef’s employment terms were unwarranted. As head of Hadassah Medical Center he earned 140,000 shekels a month, plus “appreciation bonuses” equal between two and four months’ salary. His retirement conditions, too, are outrageous: a bridging pension of 75,000 shekels a month until he reaches the official retirement age of 67, several million shekels in severance pay, redemption of his leftover sick pay and vacation days, and continuing contributions to his pension and other savings plans, even though he no longer works for Hadassah.

Hadassah’s board of directors also failed to meet its responsibilities. From the minutes of its meetings it is clear the board did not stand up to management, making do with gentle criticism that was not acted on. Thus, the conduct of the chairmen during this period should also be scrutinized: David Brodet, Yossi Nitzani and Yossi Rosen.

In order to get to the bottom of these weighty issues, the cabinet should appoint a commission of inquiry that will examine the reasons for the financial collapse, the conduct of the director general and all the gatekeepers – the directors, accountants, internal auditors, the Registrar of Nonprofit Organizations and the health and finance ministries. Only an investigative commission with teeth will make it clear that administrative failure in the public sector incurs a personal cost rather than, for example, being hired to head the National Insurance Institute, at a monthly salary of 60,000 shekels.

Former director general of Hadassah Medical Center Prof. Shlomo Mor-Yosef. Credit: Moti Milrod

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