(photo credit: COURTESY OF DR YEHEZKEL CAINE/HERZOG HOSPITAL)
Following the temporary closing of the neonatal intensive care unit at Bnei Brak’s Ma’ayanei Hayeshua Hospital due to a serious infection of a newborn with bacteria resistant to antibiotics, Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman said he would “double the nursing job slots” in all the country’s premature baby units.
“This is news that will have a positive effect on the treatment of preterm infants in the country and ensure proper and safe treatment for low-birth-weight infants,” the minister said.
However, Litzman did not explain how he will be able to send twice as many specially trained nurses to neonatal intensive care units, which are known to be very difficult places to work because of the infants’ constant need for attention and monitoring and life-and-death responsibility. As a result, there has long been a shortage of such nurses, and the State Comptroller has in recent years criticized the ministry several times for not increasing manpower and doing enough to fight nosocomial (in-house) infections in the units.
The ministry, which was not immediately informed by the ultra-Orthodox (haredi) voluntary hospital about the infection, said on Monday that “following a series of discussions and negotiations led by the Health and Finance ministries, in cooperation with the Nurses Union, an agreement was signed to double the nurses’ job slots in the neonatal intensive care units.
Asked by The Jerusalem Post
whether the ministry had allocated special incentives to increase the number of neonatal intensive care unit nurses, the ministry would say only that more nurses had graduated this year and that some could be expected to work in the units.
When asked why the doubling on job slots was announced by the haredi minister only the day after the news of the Ma’ayanei Hayeshua infection broke, spokesman Eyal Basson said that “the matter has been under discussion for a long time, and today we were able to announce it.”
The doubling will add 121 new nursing job slots to neonatal intensive care units in three stages starting in January, the ministry said.
The ministry said the Bnei Brak unit was closed temporarily, and high-risk women were transferred to other hospitals. Magen David Adom and United Hatzalah were told not to bring women in labor to the hospital’s emergency room. The ministry and its unit for the prevention of infections are in direct and continuous contact with the hospital’s medical director, Prof. Mordechai Ravid, and the neonatal intensive care unit teams.