‘LITZMAN AND ROTSTEIN are killing our children out of greed!’ say the two signs on the left during the protest at Hadassah-University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem..
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The High Court of Justice has set a hearing on the petition to order Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman to open a pediatric hemato-oncology department at Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center for June 28.
Many of those involved in the dispute decried the delay, saying it could be a matter of life and death.
The latest petition was filed by the parents of children with cancer on June 11. The children were previously treated by Prof.
Michael Weintraub and five other senior oncologists and three medical residents in the hemato-oncology department at Hadassah-University Medical Center. The nine physicians resigned over what they said were the “mistaken policies and objectionable behavior” of Hadassah Medical Organization director-general Prof. Zeev Rotstein.
Almost all of the Israeli children have been moved for treatment in distant hospitals in the center of the country, while the Hadassah department continues to treat Palestinian, Russian and other foreign children for whom NIS 500,000 each was paid for their bone-marrow transplants.
The Israeli parents claim that the doctors brought in by Rotstein to man the Hadassah department are either unqualified to take care of the medical problems of the children or are only part-timers brought in from Sheba Medical Center (which Rotstein previously directed) to fill in for the doctors who resigned and are now unemployed.
A demonstration to show solidarity with the parents’ struggle will be held at a protest tent in Jerusalem’s Sacher Park at 6.30 p.m. on Thursday. The organizers said that it will be attended by some of the sick children and their parents as well as “senior pediatricians from around the country.” In addition, hundreds of teenagers from youth movements will hold a vigil to show their support for the struggle.
The Health Ministry has not explained why Litzman – who appointed Rotstein as Hadassah Medical Organization head 18 months ago – has refused to let Shaare Zedek open a department, except to say that “it is not suited” and that “the doctors who resigned have no right to leave en masse and tell the ministry what to do.”
The parents’ group have several times called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and even on his wife, Sara, to intervene in the crisis, but the prime minister has not commented.
Only on Tuesday did Netanyahu call Litzman on the issue, saying he did so at the request of his wife, but no results were reported.
The Jerusalem Post emailed Ellen Hershkin, the national president of the Hadassah Women’s Zionist Organization of America in New York that owns Hadassah Medical Organization, to ask why she has not made any comment on the crisis or intervened, but she did not respond.
Hadassah Women's Zionist Organization of America, (HWZOA) later responded saying: "Our overriding concern is the welfare of the children and their families."
"The management of the Hadassah Medical Organization (HMO), led by Director General Professor Zeev Rotstein, together with the HMO Board of Directors and the Ministry of Health have worked tirelessly to find a solution that will enable the children to receive the best treatment.," the organization said. "Thanks to their efforts and the high standards set by Hadassah’s hospitals, HMO management has succeeded in enlisting an excellent team of expert doctors from Israel and abroad to continue the lifesaving work of the department."
The Hadassah Medical Organization publicized a letter from a Dr. Yoram Neuman, a pediatric hematologist at Sheba, addressed to the resigning physicians, urging them to return to the Hadassah department, saying it was “not too late” to change their minds. He called on them to “stop being agitators” and getting the nurses in the Hadassah department to claim “that the new doctors brought in were unfamiliar with treatment protocols and unsuited” to take care of the children’s cancers.
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