The Jerusalem Regional Labor Court on Monday issued an order to the Hadassah
Medical Organization (HMO) to halt, at least temporarily, its hearings of 100
dentists who have been selected by management for dismissal.
told HMO and representatives of the dentists to appear at a court session on
September 11. The decision seemed to imply that it was displeased by the way HMO
had handled the matter.
The dentists, who are paid as freelance
contractors by Hadassah and are not members of the Hebrew University- Hadassah
School of Dental Medicine faculty, maintain that HMO director-general Avigdor
Kaplan’s decision to dismiss them would bring about the closure of the dental
school, which is one of only two in the country. The other is Tel Aviv
University’s Sackler School of Dental Medicine, which over the years has been
threatened with closure due to financial losses.
HMO spokeswoman Rachel
Goldblatt initially told The Jerusalem Post that the dentists whom Kaplan had
invited for dismissal hearings all “provide dental services to private patients,
and that the firings were necessary because HMO wants to halt the financial
losses suffered by such business dealings.”
Goldblatt said all of the
targeted dentists have private practices and the planned dismissals are part of
the recovery plan prepared by Kaplan.
The HMO spokeswoman did not explain
how the private dental services were money-losers and why they could not become
profitable with higher fees. She denied that the school would be forced to
close, but she acknowledged that Kaplan – an insurance expert, and not a
physician – was brought in a few months ago to deal with HMO’s huge operating
deficit of NIS 3,000,000 and its NIS 1 billion accumulated
“Avigdor Kaplan is not to blame for the deficit; he was hired to
heal HMO financially,” she said.
Goldblatt changed her statement
somewhat, when pressed, and did not deny that some or many of the freelance
dentists teach at the school.
“The dental school is not in danger because
we are not dismissing members of the dental school faculty,” she
Hebrew University-Hadassah Dental School dean Prof. Adam
Stabholz said he thought the school was in danger of closing but hoped it would
Dr. Yael Houry-Haddad, a dentist who represents those threatened
with dismissal, denied Goldblatt’s claims that all of them provide only dental
services for HMO’s business activities. She insisted that most of the 100
dentists spend a day or two a week teaching basic dentistry
“Some of them have taught there for 20 or 30 years,” she said.
“Those who teach one day a week earn a net monthly salary of about NIS 1,000. It
doesn’t pay for them economically, but they do it to pass down their knowledge
to the next generation.”
The school has, in addition to the freelancers,
30 full-time dentists who are members of the faculty. Their jobs are not at
risk, said Houry-Haddad.
Half of the 160 dentists who work at Jerusalem’s
Ein Kerem campus teach; a quarter treat patients, and the rest conduct dental
research, she explained.
The Hebrew University is responsible for paying
faculty members and running the dental school, and it funds salaries largely
through the Council of Higher Education’s powerful Committee for Planning and
Dentistry is the most expensive of all professions and
curricula to teach, which could explain the shaky financial situation of both
schools over the years.
CPD recently increased its dental-student
subsidies to NIS 100,000, said Houry-Haddad.
However, the actual cost of
training during the clinical (not theoretical) years is NIS 150,000 per
Once the freelance dentists are fired, “they will not come back
again to teach. They will be lost to the dental school. They have their
private practices and don’t need teaching to go on,” she said.
growing need for young dentists -- given the fact that professional dentists are
aging and there is little immigration of such professionals -- has led to
increasing the student body in Jerusalem to 80 in the first year. The sixth year
has only 50 students. According to Houry-Haddad, without the freelance dentists
teaching students, the school “will not be able to function. There is no one
else who teaches the basic courses.”
She claimed that Hadassah Women’s
Zionist Organization of America, which owns HMO, “did not give Kaplan permission
to dismiss dentists,” but Goldblatt said there was no difference between
Kaplan’s views and HWZOA’s.
“The Hebrew University and [HMO] have a long
history of fruitful collaboration in various areas, such as teaching, research,
personnel, maintenance and [property]. The academic year at the Faculty
of Dental Medicine and the Faculty of Medicine will open as usual,” a Hebrew
University spokesman said.
The Health Ministry spokeswoman commented, “We
will study the process and make sure to preserve the training of dentists. If
for any reason Hadassah leaves this field, we will find an alternate way to
train them in coordination with the CPB.”
There have been reports, some
of which were denied, that the School of Physiotherapy in Jerusalem and the
Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine are endangered by HMO’s