Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman and his director-general Dr. Ronni Gamzu are trying to persuade the Treasury to supply matching funds so that a potential purchaser of Jerusalem’s bankrupt Bikur Cholim Hospital who lives abroad will be able to buy it and keep it going. His name has been kept secret.

According to people involved in the campaign to persuade the Treasury, the foreign businessman, who is secular even though the hospital is Orthodox-oriented, is willing to invest a dollar for every dollar the government will give.

“He wants to give charity and do good but also to make money from the medical institution,” according to a source close to the campaign.

However, both the ministries have been extremely tight lipped, with the Health Ministry ignoring requests for information on what will happen on February 9, when the 143-year-old hospital’s 700 employees expect to be paid their January salaries.

All the Finance Ministry would do on Monday was issue the same terse press release it put out a month ago – that it is a “public private hospital and not supported by the state. It must turn to the courts to deal with the matter. If its financial situation does not allow it to function properly, the government will formulate its position in accordance with health considerations and take action, including the division of the hospital between Jerusalem’s Hadassah and Shaare Zedek Medical Centers.”

However, these hospitals have so far refused to manage Bikur Cholim or hire all its workers.

In the meantime, while some employees have already left for other jobs, others are determined to hang on until its future is determined. Medical treatments continue to be provided, women give birth and others are still registering to deliver at Bikur Cholim at the end of their pregnancies.

The Treasury has so far adamantly refused the hospital management’s request for a “one-time” NIS 30 million grant to put it back in financial health and give it the opportunity to be run on a profitable basis.

The hospital’s facilities were purchased a few years ago by Russian-Israeli businessman Arkadi Gaydamak, but his financial fortune and interest in Israel have been much diminished, and he now demands rent from the voluntary organization that runs the institution.

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