clalit hospital 88 248.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Clalit Health Services was ordered on Monday to hand over portions of an
agreement it signed with one of its major donors, the Schneider family of New
York, to the Movement for Freedom of Information.
Study: First medical opinion can affect the second opinion Labor court orders Clalit to give medical information
The Tel Aviv District
Court intervened after Clalit refused to disclose the information requested
under the Freedom of Information Law, for fear that doing so would damage the
family’s privacy and put future donations at risk.
The request was first
submitted in November 2007, following the publication of a news story detailing
procedures involved in the hiring and firing of chief administrators at the
Schneider Children’s Medical Center in Petah Tikva. According to the report, the
Medical Development for Israel Inc. Foundation’s chairwoman, Lynn Schneider, had
demanded that the hospital’s then-manager be fired, and there was a clause in the
agreement between the HMO and the foundation that the foundation had to approve
the appointments of the hospital’s senior management.
family had reportedly given the HMO NIS 60 million back in
Following Clalit’s refusal to hand over the document, the Movement
for Freedom of Information petitioned the court claiming that the refusal
breached the Freedom of Information Law and harmed the public’s right to
information about the running of a vital public service.
In its response
to the court, Clalit Health Services said that exposing the information would
compromise the privacy of the Schneider family and the HMO’s commitments to the
family, as well as put at risk the hospital’s future fundraising
“Directed philanthropy, especially on a large scale, is a
sensitive and complex matter, and donors generally do not wish the details of
their philanthropic endeavors made public at the whim of others. For an
individual donor, philanthropy combines issues of personal wealth and emotional
commitment, both of which are almost universally considered private affairs,”
the donors wrote in a letter to the court.
“The Schneider family is a
significant contributor to the State of Israel and the healthcare of children.
It is no exaggeration to state that without the Schneider family’s generosity,
Israel would not today enjoy a children’s tertiary care hospital like the
Schneider Children’s Medical Center, and the Israeli public health system would
not today benefit from the direct and indirect ramifications of such an
Clalit was only willing to attest that from an examination
of the agreement, it found that no return was given to the donors for their
contribution and that the hospital was under no formal obligation to the
In judging the case, Judge Michal Agmon said she had to balance
between the family’s right to privacy and the public’s right to know, both equal
“The public interest that stands at the base of this
information request is the need for transparency when it comes to ties between a
public institution, and in this case we are dealing with a public institution
that is central to the Israeli health system, and a private institution,
regarding the provision of a vital and basic public service,” the judge
“Withholding the information that this request seeks prevents the
public from overseeing transactions between public authorities and donors. Only
access to the information will enable the public to confirm or deny misgivings
or fears regarding the authority’s operations.”
The judge said that as
“the owners” of the hospital, the public had a right to know what agreements
were signed. “Despite the natural tendency to protect an individual’s ownership
of information regarding his or her private affairs, when it comes to
information held by a public body, it must be realized that the information
actually belongs to the public,” she said.
At the same time, the judge
determined that certain sections of the agreement were indeed of a private
nature, and that disclosing them would infringe on the right to
“The details of the agreement that deal with the amount that the
Schneider family donated and the method and timing of payment fall under the
protection of privacy law,” Agmon wrote. “The remaining details of the
agreement, however, are details whose exposure would not harm the donor’s
In the end, the judge ordered Clalit Health Services to hand
over a copy the agreement, but allowed it to first redact all portions that deal
with the amount of the contribution and the timing and method of payment.