The last obstacle to the integration of Jerusalem’s financially failing,
190-yearold Bikur Cholim Hospital into the capital’s successful, 110-year-old
Shaare Zedek Medical Center was eliminated on Thursday night.
for the agreement will probably be signed by Shaare Zedek directorgeneral Prof.
Jonathan Halevy and Bikur Cholim officials this week, The Jerusalem Post has
learned, but there probably will not be a formal ceremony.
will receive an unspecified sum from the Treasury to finance deficits and costs
of integration, and it will hire 73 percent of Bikur Cholim’s employees – most
of the nurses, many of the physicians and fewer of the administrative and
A receiver was appointed by the Jerusalem District
Court, and the voluntary haredi organization that was responsible for running
the hospital will voluntarily disband.
This brings an end to over five
years of financial and political struggles over Bikur Cholim. Shaare Zedek has
over 700 beds, while Bikur Cholim had more than 200 at its peak, but numerous
staffers – who still have not received their last salary payment – have left for
Halevy sent a personal letter on Thursday to all of his
medical center’s employees to explain the historic step, encouraged and made
possible by the Finance Ministry – which preferred it over the Hadassah Medical
Organization, which has a significant deficit.
Because the voluntary
organization that ran the hospital failed to deposit all of the workers’ pension
money, the remaining workers will not receive their full pensions. However, they
could get part if the owner of Bikur Cholim’s properties, Russian oligarch
Arkady Gaydamak, decides to sell them. At the same time, since some of the
buildings are historic and cannot be destroyed, not much can be sold unless new
structures are built on top of them.
For the time being, the obstetrics
and gynecology, internal medicine and pediatrics departments will continue to
function at Bikur Cholim at Straus and Hanevi’im streets in the center of town.
The surgical department will handle only low-risk operations, and Shaare Zedek’s
surgeons will be able to perform operations in both hospitals.
addition, the once prestigious cardiology department will function on an
ambulatory basis downtown.
The hospital’s emergency room will be run as
an urgent care center by TEREM, the private and very popular network of
Patients who cannot be treated at the TEREM facility will be
sent to the hospital emergency room of their choice, either at Shaare Zedek or
the two Hadassah University Medical Centers.
The obstetrics wards of
Bikur Cholim have delivered at their peak some 5,000 babies – mostly to ultra-
Orthodox parents. When it integrates with Shaare Zedek, which delivers 16,000
babies a year on its campus opposite Mount Herzl, the medical center will
deliver more babies annually than any other hospital in the world – a record
currently held by a Texas hospital.
Shaare Zedek will eventually have
more space for facilities that will not operate at Bikur Cholim, as its
“Building of the New Generation” is currently under construction and will be
completed in 18 months.