Clalit head says on highest state of alert for severe outbreak

Medical staff at hospitals and community clinics have participated in drills to be ready to treat patients if needed, and the hours of online consulting services have been extended.

Coronavirus quarantine ward at Sheba Hospital in Ramat Gan (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)
Coronavirus quarantine ward at Sheba Hospital in Ramat Gan
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)
Hospitals, clinics and digitally provided services are on the highest state of alert as they brace for a severe outbreak of the novel coronavirus, Clalit Health Services director-general Prof. Ehud Davidson said.
“As a serious organization, we are ready to do the maximum that we can,” the head of Israel’s largest healthcare provider told The Jerusalem Post. “The Israeli health system is relatively small, and it is one of the countries with the fewest beds and staff per 1,000 people. We need to do the best we can.”
Special coronavirus divisions have been established in all 14 hospitals operated by Clalit, which insures 52% of Israeli citizens, despite healthcare resources already being stretched nationwide, Davidson said.
Medical staff at hospitals and community clinics have participated in drills to be ready to treat patients if needed, and the hours of online consulting services have been extended, he said.
“We are ready for a certain level of illness. If it gets to a situation similar to Italy, this is less positive,” said Davidson, who has headed the healthcare provider since September 2018. “The hospitals are not empty, as there are people hospitalized with regular illnesses. The hospitals are required to give both normal treatment and special treatment.”

Hospital crowding has remained high over recent years, including during the summer, he said. Clalit hospitals currently have occupancy rates ranging from approximately 80% in some hospitals to 120% in others, he added.
In a scenario where Israel records a sharp increase in positive cases, Davidson said those in a mild condition would likely remain in isolation at home.
“We will keep the hospitals for those who require artificial respiration,” he said. “Our strategy provides for those with a cough or slight temperature to stay at home and receive treatment via online consultations.”
Clalit already has spent approximately NIS 100 million ($29m.) on preparations for the outbreak – a difficult task for a company and health system already facing tight budgetary restrictions.
“We are the ones who need to save lives, and therefore we don’t count the costs,” Davidson said. “We are writing down our expenses, and we will request assistance from the Health Ministry.”
Davidson said he fully supports strict measures implemented by the health authorities to combat the spread of the outbreak, adding that Clalit plays an active role in the debates and decision-making process.
“The State of Israel has largely managed to stop the progression of the outbreak,” he said. “We know how to identify those who have been infected and who infected him.”
“The measures are correct. We give our backing to their decisions, and we are partners in the debates and the decisions due to the statewide responsibility that we have for public health,” Davidson said.