Shaare Zedek Hospital.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
President Reuven Rivlin called Shaare Zedek Medical Center director-general Prof. Jonathan Halevy on Monday, asking him not to open a competing pediatric bone-marrow transplantation center at his hospital, and Halevy agreed.
The decision was announced by Halevy on Monday evening, 15 days after six senior oncologists and three medical residents in the Hadassah University Medical Center resigned, leaving Hadassah with inadequate medical staff to treat Israeli and foreign children suffering from cancer.
The highly respected and dedicated former Hadassah doctors, led by pediatric oncologist Prof. Michael Weintraub, left the Hadassah Medical Organization on June 4, claiming that they were unable to work under HMO director-general Prof.
Zeev Rotstein – both professionally due to his policies and personally due to his behavior toward them.
Since then, almost all the Israeli children with oncology have been moved to far-off hospitals in the center of the country, leaving only Palestinians, Russians and other medical tourists for whom the payment of NIS 500,000 per bone-marrow transplant has benefited Hadassah.
After Rivlin called and asked Halevy not to open a competing department, Halevy said, “Out of respect to the president of the state, I accepted his request.”
Rivlin told Halevy that his making such an announcement would help solve the crisis at Hadassah.
The High Court of Justice is due to hold a hearing of the parents’ plea to force Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman to grant a license to SZMC for a new pediatric hemato-oncology department. If the court decides, nevertheless, to rule in their favor and force Litzman to approve the establishment of a new department at SZMC, Halevy said some months ago that such a unit could be opened within six months.
According to the Israeli parents fighting Litzman and Rotstein, the health minister told all government-owned hospitals that they must not hire the resigning physicians.
The crisis of labor relations at Hadassah and in its pediatric hematology-oncology department have had serious medical and public repercussions that no one could have predicted, Halevy said.
“In recent weeks, unprecedented human and heartbreaking struggle has been taking place around the pediatric hemato-oncology department at Hadassah.
Leadership and national responsibility are measured at such moments,” said the longtime SZMC director-general. “As someone whose life’s work is saving lives, I cannot look from the sidelines and remain indifferent to the sights and voices that have been rising in recent days and touching the heart of every person.”
Halevy added, “As is well known, Shaare Zedek did not create this crisis and is not a party to it, but perhaps by doing something at the present time out of a sense of responsibility and a mission, we will take part in the first step on the way to solving the crisis.”