MKs: We’ll push for better preemie care

Knesset c'tee calls on Health Ministry to designate funds specifically for the baby units and to monitor the infants’ conditions after discharge.

November 9, 2011 04:52
2 minute read.
Premature baby in incubator (illustrative)

Premature baby in incubator . (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)

Premature baby units at medical centers around the country are short a total of 700 nurses, the Knesset Public Complaints Committee was told on Tuesday.

In addition, some hospitals have used funds meant to improve conditions in the units for other purposes, making the situation worse, said MK Orly Levy-Abecassis (Israel Beiteinu).

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The state comptroller raised the serious issues of manpower shortages and crowding a few years ago, but nothing significant has been done since then, said Shas MK David Azoulay, who heads the committee.

“It is unthinkable that hospital directors make other use of money set aside for premature baby units,” he added.

If necessary, he said, he will push legislation to remedy the situation.

The committee called on the Health Ministry to designate funds specifically for the baby units and to monitor the infants’ conditions after they are discharged from the hospital.

At tipat halav (well-baby) centers, the committee added, the ministry should establish growth charts appropriate to children delivered at lowbirth weights and advance them in the queues for care.

The mortality rate of premature babies in Israel is twice that in the rest of the Western world, according to Levy- Abecassis, due to the overcrowding and lack of manpower for the intensive care of tiny infants. Insurance companies refuse to cover the babies, and there is a shortage of vaccines to prevent the type of pneumonia common in such children, she added.

Kadima MK Rachel Adatto, a trained gynecologist who was formerly deputy director-general of Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center, said state allocations for treatment were unfair. She pointed out that if a baby born at up to 1,750 grams survived for 72 hours, the hospital would receive NIS 169,000 to care for it, but if it weighed 1,760 gr., the sum was much lower. This minimizes the hospitals’ motivation to care for them, she said.

According to LAHAV, the voluntary organization that fights for improvement of premature baby care, not only are there too few specialist doctors and nurses for the highly demanding work, there is also a shortage of equipment.

Parents of preemies complained to the committee that they had suffered from posttraumatic stress after the births but had not received treatment for it from the health system.

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