(photo credit: JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH)
The Health Ministry will encourage the establishment of public and private
urgent medical care clinics, open 24/7, in the periphery to minimize unnecessary
visits to hospital emergency rooms, Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman told
The Jerusalem Post on Monday.
He spoke during a tour of TEREM’s immediate
care clinic in the capital’s Romema neighborhood.
Such facilities have
over the years greatly reduced the pressure on hospitals; in the TEREM chain
alone, of 18,000 ambulatory patients treated last month, 97 percent did not need
further care in emergency rooms, and some of those referred to hospitals did not
need inpatient care.
Litzman’s news came as a complete surprise to Dr.
Joe Djemal, the director of the private chain of urgent care clinics, and its
deputy director-general for operations, Natan Applebaum.
father, Dr. David Applebaum, who was murdered in a 2003 terrorist attack in a
Jerusalem cafe with his daughter Naava, launched Terem in 1989, bringing here
the idea of private, reasonably priced and efficient urgent medical care in the
Litzman told the Post that public organizations and private
companies could compete for tenders to establish such centers in locations at
least half-anhour’s drive from the nearest hospitals. The ministry itself would
not establish such centers, but it would subsidize a third of the cost, with an
equal share paid for by the local authority and the rest from the
Such clinics would be supervised by the ministry. He added
that anyone diagnosed and treated in an urgent care clinic benefits not only
from saved time but also from not being exposed to dangerous pathogens in
crowded hospital facilities.
The ministry will soon release information
for bidders for the clinics, Litzman added.
“We started thinking about
having five or six such centers, but now we are interested in 10 or 11 in the
periphery around the country,” he said.
They will also be in Arab
communities and in Jewish settlements over the Green Line, he said.
deputy minister said he was very familiar with TEREM, which has an additional
immediate care clinic in Jerusalem and others in Beit Shemesh, Modi’in and
Ma’aleh Adumim, as he had used its services, as had members of his
He praised TEREM’s speedy and knowledgeable treatment and their
integrated use of computerization for X-ray, ultrasound and lab tests, online
consultation with outside experts, and keeping patients’ personal physicians in
Severe pressure of people with flu complications and other
conditions has overwhelmed hospital emergency rooms and inpatient facilities
around the country and induced the Nurses Union to refuse to admit patients who
would have to lie on beds in the corridors.
Djemal told the Post that
Jerusalem – with its two TEREM clinics – has only 236 hospital emergency room
visits per 1,000 residents annually, compared to 456 in Safed, 421 in Beersheba,
391 in Kfar Saba, 338 in Tel Aviv and other cities that may have health fund
afterhours clinics but no TEREM clinics.
Djemal added that TEREM intends
to open a branch in Karmiel and is considering the establishment of additional
immediate care centers in Ashdod and Bnei Brak. Djemal and Applebaum showed
interest in the Health Ministry’s project but said it was a surprise and they
would have to learn more about it.
Asked about hospital crowding, Litzman
said pressure has declined somewhat in the past few days, but more hospital
beds, especially in internal medicine and intensive care, were needed.
said he couldn’t understand why the Israel Medical Association, which has now
petitioned the High Court of Justice against the ministry over this issue, did
not do so during the past decade, when not a single hospital bed was added, but
“is now doing it, when we have reached an agreement with the Treasury for nearly
1,000 additional beds in six years.”