|Photo by: Marc Israel Sellem|
Bikur Cholim takeover mixes tears of pain and joy
By JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH
In Shaare Zedek’s takeover of hospital, 150 staffers have been dismissed, but the rest have become employees.
The takeover of Jerusalem’s venerable Bikur Cholim Hospital – poorly run by a
haredi voluntary organization over the last decade – by the financially
successful Shaare Zedek Medical Center this week was a “sad day but also a happy
occasion,” said Shaare Zedek director-general Prof. Jonathan
About 150 staffers – or 27 percent of Bikur Cholim’s manpower –
have been dismissed, but the rest have become Shaare Zedek employees who will
work in either the 80-yearold premises at the corner of Strauss and Hanevi’im
streets or at Shaare Zedek’s growing campus opposite Mount
Hundreds of people will have jobs, and the tradition of Bikur
Cholim will continue under the aegis of Shaare Zedek.
gained,” Halevy said.
Within a few weeks, Halevy told The Jerusalem Post
on Tuesday, the buildings will have signs saying: “Shaare Zedek Medical
Center-Bikur Cholim branch” – with doctors, nurses, technicians, and
administrative and maintenance workers on the Shaare Zedek payroll.
Raphael Pollack, who has been the head of Bikur Cholim’s obstetrics/gynecology
and fertility department, as well as its medical director and even its
director-general for a time, will again be head of the department, which serves
mostly the haredi community.
Pollack is a veteran ob/gyn and also an
expert in “turning over” fetuses in the breech position before
Halevy, who already has detailed computerized files on all new
employees, said that the decision on who would continue and who would be
dismissed was taken very sensitively, according to specific jobs and personal
capabilities. The vast majority of nurses, most of the doctors and fewer of the
non-medical workers have been taken on by Shaare Zedek.
to say how much money the Treasury is allocating to Shaare Zedek as part of the
deal, but press reports have ranged from NIS 71 million to NIS 100
The director-general said that when he went on his first
official tour this week as the head of Bikur Cholim, “I saw people with light in
Because of the voluntary organization’s “mismanagement” over
the years, payments for taxes, pensions and other deductions were “lost” – and
as a result, debts to the state, workers and suppliers were not paid. The
National Insurance Institute has provided a safety net of about NIS 110,000 per
pensioner, but numerous ex-staffers will not receive their full
Low-occupancy departments at Bikur Cholim will be closed or
merged with Shaare Zedek’s campus. The surgical department will handle only
low-risk operations, and Shaare Zedek’s surgeons will be able to perform
operations in both hospitals.
In addition, the once popular and
prestigious cardiology department will function on an ambulatory basis
The hospital’s emergency room will be run as an urgent-care
center by TEREM, the private and very popular network of clinics; patients who
cannot be treated in the TEREM facility will be sent to the emergency room of
their choice, either at Shaare Zedek or the two Hadassah University Medical
Halevy predicted that there will be an increase in deliveries in
both campuses, which are separated by only half-a-dozen stops on the light rail.
As Shaare Zedek delivers some 16,000 babies a year and Bikur Cholim some 5,000,
the integration of the two will soon make Shaare Zedek the biggest childbirth
center in the world, pushing ahead of a hospital in Texas that currently holds
Meanwhile, Halevy has opened a new “management unit” to run
the Bikur Cholim facilities, and an independent company has been hired to
examine infrastucture improvement needs in the downtown hospital – whose pipes
frequently leak and whose electrical systems fail.
Arkady Gaydamak, who owns Bikur Cholim’s facilities, has told the
director-general he will not charge rent on them for three years.
Zedek will eventually have more space for facilities that will not remain at
Bikur Cholim, as its “Building of the New Generation” is currently under
construction and will be completed in 18 months.