A young patient at the Pilot School for Hospitalized Children at the Hadassah Medical Center, Ein Kerem, Jerusalem..
(photo credit: MIRIAM ALSTER)
Prof. Tamar Peretz, the longtime head of the Hadassah Medical Organization’s Sharett Institute of Oncology who was appointed acting HMO director-general, is not really running the hospitals, according Hadassah union chief Amnon Bruchian.
Peretz was named in June by the Hadassah board, which is controlled by the Hadassah Women’s Zionist Organization of America (HWZOA) in New York, to replace Avigdor Kaplan, the businessman the board had appointed a year before and was suddenly fired (although it announced that Kaplan had resigned).
In a letter sent this week to more than 4,000 hospital employees on the Ein Kerem and Mount Scopus campuses, Bruchian – head of the HMO unions encompassing the technical, maintenance and administrative staff – claimed the HMO is in fact run by former private investigator David Spector, trauma expert and surgeon Prof. Avi Rivkind and HMO spokeswoman (for the last 18 months) Racheli Goldblatt.
All of Bruchian’s charges were denied by Avi Balashnikov, the volunteer chairman of HMO’s board. The Jerusalem Post asked Peretz and Rivkind to comment, but they did not respond.
HMO went through a more-than-year-long financial crisis that included strikes and sanctions by many of its 5,000 employees for months. It ended with a recovery plan approved by the government, Hadassah women and employees, which required Hadassah women to sell some properties and raise more money for the institution it owns, the Treasury to allocate large sums over the next few years and employees to agree to manpower cuts, including the dismissal of 30 physicians.
After Kaplan was dismissed, Peretz was named acting director- general, and a search committee was to find a permanent director-general. No announcements of such a move have been made.
In the meantime, numerous physicians and nurses have threatened to abandon Hadassah’s ship, and some (especially nurses) have moved elsewhere.
Bruchian wrote that he and his colleagues had hoped the troubles were ending with the appointment of Peretz. “We all hugged [her], he wrote. “Unfortunately, after a long period of grace, we see a very different and worrisome picture, even though we thought she had the ability to run the institution.
We object to the fact that the director-general does not honor agreements with employees and does not carry out her job properly.”
Bruchian continued that Spector was brought in by HWZOA and given the “narrow responsibility” to represent its interests in negotiations over the recovery plan, but that he “took control of the hospital[s] and pulls the strings. His management has resulted in extensive damage,” the union head maintained. “His place is not in HMO’s management, and he lacks the suitable training to run it.”
Bruchian charged Spector and Rivkind with being responsible for “blunders and outrageous conduct of the hospital administration.”
Instead of managing the crisis better and thinking first and foremost about the welfare of patients,” Bruchian wrote, “management settles personal accounts at their [the patients’] expense, going after some of the best doctors in the country.” This is “leading gradually to the collapse of the hospital[s] and a situation that is worse and dangerous for all employees.”
He claimed that Peretz has a personal driver, even though she lives close to the Ein Kerem hospital, and that management “continues to make unnecessary appointments and award inflated salaries to cronies.... We understand that there is no increase in revenues (in fact the opposite) and many patients are staying away... We do not know what has happened to reports to donors on how their money is being used, but we suspect that in this field, there are irregular and non-transparent goings on.”
When asked to comment, HMO management represented by spokeswoman Goldblatt quoted Balashnikov, who “totally rejected all of the baseless claims” made by the union head.
The board chairman “is shocked by the content and style” of the letter,” and Peretz and Spector “have been working days and nights to carry out the recovery agreement in full.”
Among their “achievements are that the accompanying accountant appointed by the Treasury has stated that HMO and management have met the targets of the recovery program, and the government has transferred over NIS 300 million to the medical center since the agreement was signed.”
Balashnikov added that the reduction in staffers is on target and that the Ein Kerem hospital has more than 100 percent occupancy and the Mount Scopus hospital 95%. More than 100 physicians have been advanced in their academic track as well, he said. While the recovery program is very complicated, it is being carried out “with sensitivity and out of complete concern for giving the best medical care to patients while conducting research and teaching.”
The HMO nurses’ union issued an email that “supports management and the continuation of carrying out the recovery program,” he said.