MEDICAL STAFFERS at Jerusalem’s Hadassah-University Hospital in Ein Kerem discuss yesterday’s call to strike..
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
As Jerusalemite parents of children suffering from cancer eagerly await a decision from the High Court of Justice on their plea to allow the opening of a new department at Shaare Zedek Medical Center, the various parties remain at an impasse.
Nine doctors – six senior pediatric oncologists headed by Prof. Michael Weintraub and three medical residents – have refused to return to Hadassah-University Medical Center’s pediatric hemato-oncology department.
They have been objecting for half a year to the “objectionable” policies that “endanger the lives of children” and the personal behavior of Hadassah Medical Organization director-general Prof. Zeev Rotstein, who called over the weekend for the nine to return to Hadassah. He assured that their decisions to resign would “not jeopardize their salaries and working conditions.” The doctors did not respond to this offer.
Meanwhile, the Health Ministry has appointed an “assisting team” headed by former deputy director-general and recently retired Wolfson Medical Center director-general Dr. Yitzhak Berkovich to “help” Hadassah’s depleted pediatric hemato-oncology department to function. The ministry said it regarded as a “national mission of supreme importance” to nurse the department back to health. However, the parents said this was an insignificant step.”
Only children from Russia, the Palestinian Authority and elsewhere outside Israel, who underwent bone marrow transplants for cancer, remain in the Hadassah department; nearly all the Israeli children have been taken by their parents to departments in hospitals in the center of the country or to emergency rooms in Jerusalem. HMO earns NIS 500,000 per transplant from paying parents from abroad.
Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman, who appointed Rotstein to head HMO over opposition from hospital staffers and others, continues to back him up and prevent the doctors from moving to a department at Shaare Zedek Medical Center, the competing hospital in the capital.
The ministry said the team will “help the Hadassah Medical Organization and the hospital management give the best treatment to the children in terms of quality and safety.”
The parents group said that “what Litzman has done is Chelm [a village of fools in Jewish folklore]; he helps dismantle an excellent department with outstanding devoted doctors and now wants to save it. This is like a person who murders his parents and cries that he is an orphan. The Hadassah department doesn’t have even one pediatric oncologist,” the parents charge. Instead, it has brought other physicians either full or part-time from other hospitals.
The parents’ petitions to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, to find a solution to the impasse have gone unanswered.