Hundreds of new wheelchairs purchased by the voluntary organization Yad Sarah are stuck in Ashdod Port because of sanctions by dock workers protesting against “unilateral actions” by management. Yad Sarah, whose busiest time of year is lending out medical equipment before Passover, said Monday it hopes the union would nevertheless allow the wheelchairs to be released.
As Passover observances, including the Seder, are such family occasions, the inability of the sick and old to stay with relatives is very difficult, said Yad Sarah services and branches director Moshe Cohen.
Ashdod Port workers abandoned their jobs on Sunday to protest against the decision by management to bar close relatives from working at the port as well, especially if they are union leaders. This was decided to reduce nepotism, which reportedly is widespread there.
Wheelchairs, oxygen cylinders, walkers, hospital beds, and pulleys to help patients get in and out of bed and wheelchairs and other medical equipment are a precious commodity before the holiday – they enable families to take elderly and ill loved ones home and host them for the Seder and beyond. If not enough items are available, the elderly, disabled, and sick will have to remain in institutions over the holiday.
In the weeks before the festival, Yad Sarah’s 104 branches lend out three times as much equipment than at ordinary periods. It is expected that some 20,000 items will be lent out before the holiday. Yad Sarah volunteers working in repair shops to rehabilitate used equipment have fixed more than 1,500 items in recent weeks to expand the supply.