Hundreds of employees of the Hadassah Medical Organization – most of them administrative and maintenance workers at Jerusalem’s two Hadassah university medical centers – demonstrated Wednesday against management for hiring an international firm to analyze how to reduce its debts and to choose a new director-general.
A few weeks ago, HMO director-general Prof. Ehud Kokia resigned after only 14 months on the job, because he discovered HMO’s debt was too large for him to cope with. The Hadassah Women’s Zionist Organization of America (HWZOA), which owns HMO, immediately announced that it had hired a company with representatives in Israel, at the cost of $4 million, to conduct an “in-depth analysis” of HMO’s problems and find a replacement within three months.
The demonstrators argued that they were unwilling to allow so much money to be “wasted” on hiring outside advisers. Although they were protesting against HMO management, HWZOA in New York in fact made the decision.
Senior HMO staffers have pointed out that part of the problem was that HWZOA reduced its financial support from $40 million to $19 million last year, as pension expenses and other costs have pushed HMO’s debts into the hundreds of millions of shekels.
Nevertheless. HWZOA says that it has received “a large number of applications” from people who want to become HMO director- general.
Amnon Bruchian, chairman of the union representing 2,300 administrative and maintenance workers, said they wouldn’t agree to such expenses while their own wages were being reduced or they were asked to loan money to HMO.
The HWZOA’s spokeswoman in Israel responded that the HMO board and HWZOA had decided to launch a major recovery program. This has so far entailed speaking to hospital department heads and administrative branch personnel.
“The aim of the work plan is to develop a management strategy that will restore HMO to economic stability, while preserving the quality of service given to patients and the level of its teaching and research.”
The spokeswoman added that HWZOA has been committed for over a century to medicine and education, and regards success of the recovery program as necessary toward meeting its commitment to the country and foreign donors.
The demonstrators dispersed peacefully after HMO chairwoman Esther Dominissini spoke to them, the spokeswoman said.