A doctor stands with stethoscope in this undated handout photo..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
It turns out you can be arrested for wearing a costume on Purim.
On Thursday, security guards at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa caught a man who had been impersonating a medical intern at the hospital and seeing patients for an unknown period of time. The guards held him for police, who placed him under arrest.
The hospital got wind of the impersonator on Tuesday, when they were contacted by an acquaintance of the man who said that they thought he had been posing as a doctor at Rambam and also at the city’s Carmel Government Hospital.
The acquaintance was tipped off when he saw pictures the man posted to Facebook in which he’s wearing scrubs in a corridor at the hospital.
The acquaintance told police that the suspect, a 31-year-old resident of an Arab village in the Galilee, had studied medicine for some time at a foreign institution.
After receiving the tip, the hospital notified its security team, who began combing the hospital grounds looking for the man. On Thursday morning, they saw a man matching the Facebook picture walk into the hospital. They followed him up the elevator to one of the floors of the facility, and once they saw him walk into a room and put on scrubs, they detained him and called police.
Police apparently were not in the holiday spirit on Thursday, as Cmdr. Avi Edri of the Haifa station ordered that the case be given top priority, “due to the severity of the incident,” according to a police statement Thursday.
Rambam Medical Center notified Health Ministry officials of the case on Thursday and began carrying out an internal investigation. In a statement on Thursday, they said they had yet to determine how long he impersonated a doctor at the hospital and what if any treatment he had given to patients.
Coastal District Police said Thursday they didn’t know if the man actually treated any patients, but that at the very least he posed as a doctor and spent hours walking around on the floors of the hospital. They added that he also apparently slept at the hospital on at least a few occasions over the past two or three months.
When asked what the man said his motive was, a spokesman for the Coastal District Police said that the suspect told investigators that he’d studied medicine abroad and hadn’t managed to finish.
“He said he just really, really wanted to be a doctor and decided he would try to finish his learning at the hospital,” the spokesman added.
On Friday the suspect will be brought to court for a remand extension. It is highly unlikely he will be able to wear his doctor’s costume in court.