‘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 lawyer representing the parents of children with cancer being treated at Hadassah-University Medical Center asked Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit to launch a criminal investigation against “relevant individuals” in the Health Ministry and the Hadassah Medical Organization for allegedly “threatening” and “endlessly pressuring” Shaare Zedek Medical Center director-general Prof. Jonathan Halevy.
Eliad Shraga, in a letter with copies to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and State Comptroller Josef Shapira, claimed that ministry officials – “including Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman” – threatened that they would take away authorization for Shaare Zedek to run medical departments and withhold budgets “if Halevy looks into the possibility of opening a new [pediatric] hemato-oncology department in the hospital he runs.”
For the last six months, six senior oncologists, headed by Hadassah pediatric hemato-oncology department head Prof. Michael Weintraub, have been saying they will resign on June 4 due to their objections with decisions by HMO director-general Prof. Zeev Rotstein, his policies and behavior.
They will be joined by three medical residents in the department who supported Weintraub against Rotstein.
The children will thus have no team to treat them in Jerusalem.
Some 300 children with blood cancers are either in active treatment or undergoing follow-up at Hadassah; Shaare Zedek has a department for children with blood cancers but is not licensed by the ministry to perform bone-marrow transplants from foreign donors; it can do transplants of bone marrow taken only from the children themselves after processing.
Litzman appointed the controversial Rotstein, a former director-general of Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, over 18 months ago and has backed him constantly since then, sometimes at the expense of Shaare Zedek.
Even though the resigning physicians are eager to reestablish their team to treat the children at Shaare Zedek, Litzman has adamantly refused and criticized Halevy, who recently said that “at this time, Shaare Zedek cannot supply the services” and advised the doctors to reach an agreement with Rotstein.
Shraga, in his letter, said that Halevy was “forced against his will” to send a letter to Litzman saying that he is “not interested” in opening a new department.
The lawyer argued that such threats were a violation of a 1977 law” and demanded that Mandelblit investigate.
Rotstein has applied for court restraining orders against the resigning doctors and hired a doctor from another hospital, but still lacks the personnel needed to run the department.
The Health Ministry declined to comment by press time.
Halevy, contacted by The Jerusalem Post during a fund-raising visit to Mexico on behalf of his hospital, declined to comment on Shraga’s claims. He said, however, that his hospital is “not a side in the labor dispute between Prof. Rotstein on one side and the resigning physicians and the children’s parents on the other.
“Shaare Zedek is the responsible factor that will not stand between the children and their receipt of medical care. We recommend to Prof. Rotstein that he solve the labor dispute using acceptable tools and not to throw to Shaare Zedek’s door his own failures to solve the dispute at Hadassah while distorting facts,” Halevy concluded.
Asked to comment, the Hadassah spokeswoman said that “HMO management does not object to any investigation that the attorney-general decides to carry out on the matter. We emphasize that Shraga’s complaints, as before, focus on a time when HMO was run by others. We stress that the lawyer does not have a specific complaint dealing with the time during which HMO has been run by Prof. Rotstein.”
Meanwhile, the Ezra religious youth movement has decided to join the parents’ fight and demonstrate, starting June 21, at intersections in Ein Kerem, where Hadassah is located. They will hand out plastic “spinners” to protest against the “spins” at intersections in Ein Kerem, where Hadassah is located.
They will hand out plastic “spinners” symbolizing the “spins” that have resulted “over the backs of the children” as a result of the dispute.