Starting Monday, African refugees – but not all foreign workers – were barred
from visiting patients at Tel Aviv’s Sourasky Medical Center.
who are patients at the hospital, husbands of new mothers or parents of
hospitalized children may be admitted to the emergency room and inpatient wards
if the patient is wearing an identification bracelet.
In addition, all
inpatients from this sector at the central Tel Aviv hospital as well as husbands
of new mothers, sick children and parents of hospitalized children will have to
undergo a chest X ray to rule out tuberculosis. Those who are found negative for
the infectious disease will receive a green identification bracelet with their
name on it, along with an identifying document that will enable them to enter
and move about the hospital freely.
The hospital decided to institute
this precaution after a six-week- old baby girl, born to parents from Eritrea,
was diagnosed last Wednesday as having pulmonary tuberculosis.
was hospitalized in pediatric intensive care, and her breathing was isolated
from others in the room. She remained at Sourasky for three weeks.
hospital said the risk of her infecting other children was close to zero, but
the Health Ministry was informed.
It was decided in a meeting to invite
about 100 children and adults who might have been in contact with the infant to
come in for examination and treatment if necessary.
director-general Prof. Gabi Barbash wrote in a message to all Sourasky staffers
that as “nearly 100,000 refugees from Africa” have come from countries where TB
is endemic and are living in poor conditions. Precautions must be taken so as
not to endanger the health of Israeli citizens, including hospital staffers, he
Since Friday, all women among the African refugees and their
husbands going to the delivery rooms have been sent for chest X rays to rule out
TB before going to the obstetrical emergency room. New mothers and infants from
this sector will be housed in different wards than other patients.
hospitalized children of African refugees will also be isolated in separate
As TB is not contracted easily – like influenza or the common
cold – but requires significant exposure to tuberculosis patients over time, the
new safeguards are meant as a precaution.
The Health Ministry said it has
been warning “for a long time” about the growing use of hospital care by
Sudanese and Eritrean refugees, especially in the Tel Aviv area. Deputy Health
Minister Ya’acov Litzman called on the government and specifically the Treasury
to allocate “special resources that will ease the burden of costs to the
The ministry is “preparing guidelines for the
hospitals and is involved in complicated situations that occur, including cases
of TB and measles.”
Sourasky’s instructions will be brought before the
ministry for discussion and approval, it said.