State closes last three private psychiatric hospitals

Last year, police arrested staff from Neveh Ya’acov for allegedly abusing inmates over several years.

Health basket committee 370 (photo credit: Judy Siegel-Itzkovich)
Health basket committee 370
(photo credit: Judy Siegel-Itzkovich)
Health Ministry director general Prof. Ronni Gamzu ordered the official closure on Wednesday of Petah Tikva’s Neveh Ya’acov private psychiatric hospital following an investigation by a committee of experts among reports of staff violence and abuse against residents.
In addition, Gamzu said that the two remaining private institutions for psychiatric and mentally disabled patients – Ilanit and Neveh Shalva – would also be shut down.
Late last year, police arrested over 70 staffers from Neveh Ya’acov for allegedly abusing inmates over several years. The suspects were accused of having committed sexual offenses and to have beaten and tied to beds some of its 160 patients, whose ages ranged from 20 to 70.
The Health Ministry assumed temporary responsibility for running the institution while police investigate the matter and then transferred the patients to public psychiatric institutions.
But Meretz MK Ilan Gilon, who had originally exposed complaints from family members about conditions in the Petah Tikva institution, said Wednesday after reading the ministry report that it and its conclusions offered “little consolation,” as the ministry had acted with much delay, ignoring the abuse and severe neglect that had been going on for years at the veteran facility.
Even today, months after the story broke, indictments had not been issued against those involved in the scandal, Gilon said.
The MK demanded that standards be set immediately for employing auxiliary staff in psychiatric institutions and rigorous supervision and control. Most of the patients had to be transferred to outpatient facilities in the community instead of living in the hospital, he added.
Gilon charged that patients were kept at the low-standard private psychiatric institutions to save money for the ministry.
The committee report found a lack of coordination between the ministry’s mental health branch and the District Health Office and accepting low standards of operations and management.
The committee called for shutting down “closed wards” in private psychiatric hospitals, establishing wards with expertise in treating patients with combined problems of psychiatric and mental disability and defining more suitable frameworks for patients in the community for their treatment and rehabilitation.
Health Minister Yael German said she read the report “with much concern” and was upset by the “red warning lights” that are apparently from it. Until now, the state has not given the necessary attention and resources to treat psychiatric patients, a population whose voices are not heard, she said.