Shaare Zedek Medical Center.
(photo credit: SHAARE ZEDEK MEDICAL CENTER)
Desperate to persuade the High Court of Justice that Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman should be forced to allow Shaare Zedek Medical Center to open a new pediatric hemato-oncology department for their children, nine parents launched a hunger strike on Sunday night.
The hunger strike began in sizzling temperatures at the parents’ protest tent in Jerusalem’s Sacher Park, and has no designated end. However, the High Court, petitioned weeks ago, decided to speed up its deliberations and will hold a session on Tuesday morning instead of Wednesday.
Among those who have stopped eating (but are drinking) is Uri Yakir, a leader of the parents’ group, which is struggling against Hadassah Medical Organization director-general Zeev Rotstein over his policies and behavior toward nine leading oncologists and medical residents who resigned on June 4. Yakir’s four-year-old daughter, Adi, was treated by some of the Hadassah physicians.
Others on the hunger strike are Moshe Benita, who lost his son, Noam, to cancer, and Reuma Maron, who lost her son, Tamir, to a malignancy.
Ya’ara Shilo, a lecturer at Efrata College who is active in the Educational Forum, joined the parents in their hunger strike on Monday.
Prof. Michael Weintraub, former head of the Hadassah department who resigned with his team, called on the parents to stop their hunger strike so as not to endanger their health.
But the parents said: “We thank our incredibly devoted doctors for their concern, and we are sure they are genuine feelings. But the hunger strike is meant to give the message that we lost faith in the health system and HMO management that constantly plays around with us. Our demand is clear and there is only one solution – that the health minister be forced to allow the opening of a new department at Shaare Zedek.”
Shaare Zedek director-general Jonathan Halevy, who has tried to persuade the doctors to return to Hadassah after getting Litzman’s refusal, said months ago that within three to six months, he could set up a new department without public money.