Hospital Bed 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Hospitals reduced the number of beds in their internal medicine departments on
Tuesday, so none of them would have more than 120-percent occupancy.
Health Ministry’s policy change resulted from protests last month by the Nurses
Union, which threatened not to admit any patients to the departments if they had
to lie on beds in corridors, and that they would walk out of their jobs if this
The ministry commented that “hospitalization conditions are
terrible” and said it was dealing with this in three ways: increasing beds with
funding and manpower; transferring suitable patients to geriatric departments
for acute care; and making changes in financial agreements between the hospitals
and the health funds.
Occupancy over 120%, it continued, is liable to
harm the necessary quality of care. Hospital directors were told to “take action
within their abilities to ensure quality of care while reducing the pressure on
The Nurses Union said that shifting internal medicine
patients to other departments with space – such as ophthalmology, dermatology
and otolaryngology – was undesirable, as medical staffers there lacked the
special training to treat them. It added that overburdened internists were
exhausted and short on manpower. It called on the ministry to issue a clear
order prohibiting hospitalization of internal medicine cases in other types of
Union head Ilana Cohen criticized the ministry for only now
setting a limit on department capacity, as it “knew about the problem for a
decade but did nothing before we threatened to walk out of our jobs.”
month ago, the occupancy rate in internal medicine departments, which take care
of the elderly and others with multiple chronic diseases, was sky-high due to
large numbers of patients with flu complications. Since then, these
complications have declined, easing pressure on the departments.
director-general Dr. Ronni Gamzu visited Wolfson Medical Center in Holon on
Monday and found that occupancy rates in internal medicine departments had
He said he could not justify nurses’ abandonment of their
departments, but agreed that the situation was unfair to patients and staffers
Meanwhile, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews,
headed by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, announced that it was donating NIS 6 million
to hospitals in Israel’s periphery as part of the effort to prepare them for
emergencies and routine needs. The funds will go toward purchasing vital medical
equipment and strengthening hospital infrastructures.
The donation will
be used to provide Ziv Hospital in Safed and Poriya Hospital in Tiberias with
MRI scanners, and add to the infrastructure of Emek Medical Center in Afula.
Last year, the ministry gave approval for hospitals in the periphery to purchase
MRIs, but did not give them the money to do so.
centers in the Center of the country have the prestige and donors (mostly
foreign) to purchase the best equipment for themselves, while those in the
outlying parts of the country do not.