(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
For many years, hospital internal medicine departments have begun to overflow
with patients in the winter, coinciding with flu season.
Medical Association warned at an emergency meeting on Wednesday that the
departments, which treat mostly elderly and others with complex chronic
conditions, are already full this summer as well.
Some 500 additional
beds are needed in internal medicine departments around the country,
chairman Dr. Leonid Eidelman and heads of the Internal Medicine Society.
Eidelman added that patients in the corridors face “inhuman
Health Ministry directorgeneral Dr. Ronni Gamzu, who until
recently was director- general of Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital and thus
familiar with the situation, said that 70,000 hospital days are spent by
patients in the corridors without the privacy and protection of being in
“I won’t acquiesce to the failure to add beds to internal medicine
departments,” he declared.
The lack of beds does not refer to the actual
bed itself but to space in wards, medical manpower and funding for
bed. Gamzu noted that beds are removed from existing departments because
are not enough internal medicine specialists to take care of patients.
director-general noted that unless more funding was received from the
more and more internal medicine physicians and other specialists would
Israel or leave medicine entirely because they were unwilling to work
The way to break the vicious cycle, he suggested,
was to add hospital beds and manpower slots and offer improved
doctors so they would want to work in internal medicine departments.
occupancy rates rise above 80 percent, the level of hospital medicine is
substandard, said Eidelman. Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon needs 58
internal medicine beds immediately, the IMA said. Wolfson in Holon needs
Soroka in Beersheba 63 and Emek 38.
Although Israel has become a member
of the OECD (Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development),
number of beds ranks at the bottom compared to other member states, said
Dror Diker, head of the Internal Medicine Society. According to
estimates, there are only 5,290 beds today compared to the projected
7,896 in 2015. Diker added that in another few months, there wouldn’t be
doctors to fill existing slots in internal medicine departments. Of 52
who started learning in internal medicine departments in the last few
have already dropped out.
The low pay, large numbers of patients, long
hours and inability to have a private practice in the field have caused
situation, said Diker.
Hospital directors suggested that the only way for
the government to understand the crisis faced by the hospitals was for
refuse to admit any patients beyond the departments’ ability to
Then the responsibility would fall upon the health system, which
has to pay for reforms.
Prof. Yehuda Shoenfeld, head of the internal
medicine B department at Sheba Medical Center (the country’s largest
called on his colleagues to “work by the book. It’s impossible to
treat patients in the 3.2 days, on average, that they are
Shoenfeld added that when Treasury officials are
hospitalized in his department, “within 10 minutes, I get six phone
demanding that they not be hospitalized in the corridors.”
Moshe Mittelman, head of Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center’s internal
department, said that even if beds inside wards were found for every
“we still don’t have enough medical manpower to care for all of
All graduates of foreign medical schools who come to Israel to
study a specialty here should be required to work for at least a year in
internal medicine department, suggested Dr. Shmuel Heyman, head of a
at Hadassah University Medical Center on Mount Scopus.