Crisis persists over Hadassah pediatric cancer patients

The parents went to the President’s Residence to pour their hearts out to President Reuven Rivlin, who said a solution must be found immediately.

June 22, 2017 00:34
3 minute read.
rivlin children cancer visit

PRESIDENT REUVEN RIVLIN signs a child's cast at the President’s Residence while hosting parents of children who have been undergoing cancer treatments. (photo credit: MARK NEYMAN/GPO)

The impasse continued on Wednesday over who will treat children with cancer who were cared for at Hadassah-University Medical Center and since June 4 have been transferred by their parents to hospitals in the center of the country.

It has resulted in much bad blood in the health system, as some of the media accused Shaare Zedek Medical Center director-general Prof. Jonathan Halevy of trying to “harvest” the six senior Hadassah oncologists and three medical residents who resigned over dissatisfaction with Hadassah Medical Organization’s managerial decisions and behavior after giving notice six months ago.

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“The press is trying to turn me into a major figure, when in fact I am marginal in this story. I was not involved in the crisis,” Halevy told The Jerusalem Post. “When, last November, the physicians said they couldn’t continue to work at Hadassah, I said I was willing to ask for permission from the Health Ministry to open a department to take in the oncologists and the children, but when we were refused by Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman, I dropped the matter of a department. I said months ago that we will not open our own.”

Yediot Aharonot on Wednesday claimed to have personal emails that were obtained by Hadassah Medical Organization management from the Hadassah accounts of Prof. Michael Weintraub, the leading oncologist who resigned, and others. But the texts of the email messages, said Halevy, “showed open dialogue in which I tried to get the doctors to return to Hadassah. I openly told Litzman that the resigning doctors told me they would prefer to sell matchboxes in the street rather than remain under [Zeev] Rotstein’s management.”

Instead, Halevy continued, “I have invested great efforts in trying to get the doctors to return to Hadassah. I don’t know how someone who did not cause the crisis – which resulted from Prof. Rotstein’s failures – can be branded by some of the media as guilty. This is just spin.”

Litzman appointed Rotstein, a former director-general of Sheba Medical Center, to solve Hadassah Medical Organization’s severe financial problems and carry out a recovery plan.

The Health Ministry has said that “ministry professionals” judged Shaare Zedek as “unsuitable” for opening a competing pediatric hemato-oncology department, but it has not in seven months given reasons for this.

The ministry spokesman on Wednesday said that the doctors “rejected the mediation proposal” for discussing their objections to returning to Hadassah, but the doctors insisted that they were the ones to initiate mediation months ago and were “ignored” by Litzman and the ministry. The ministry urged the doctors on Wednesday to negotiate “without preconditions.”

The parents went to the President’s Residence to pour their hearts out to President Reuven Rivlin, who said a solution must be found immediately.

The doctors’ resignations – justified a month ago by the Jerusalem Labor Court – and the resultant crisis “are the result of severe lack of faith with HMO [Hadassah Medical Organization] management, and that is how the crisis has to be solved,” according to Shaare Zedek. “It is time that those responsible for the affair take responsibility and manage the crisis.”

Eliad Shraga, the pro bono lawyer representing the resigning physicians, accused Rotstein in a letter to Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon of paying Sheba doctors who are doing “rotation” at the Hadassah department “NIS 80,000 to NIS 150,000 for each physician monthly” and “tens of thousands of shekels for renting Jerusalem apartments and leasing cars for them.” No comment was received by press time from the Hadassah Medical Organization spokeswoman.

Hadassah’s pediatric hemato-oncology department is still treating medical-tourism patients – children from the Palestinian Authority, Russia and other places that pay some NIS 500,000 for bone-marrow transplants and follow-up for each child.

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