Mor-Yosef wants to remain Hadassah head

In a letter sent on Monday to HWZOA national president Nancy Falchuk and HMO board chairman Yossi Nitzani, Mor-Yosef said he would like to continue in the post.

By
February 25, 2010 03:22
Mor-Yosef with Deputy Health Minister Ya'acov Litz

mor-yosef . (photo credit: Judy Siegel)

Hadassah Medical Organization director-general Prof. Shlomo Mor-Yosef – who was told two months ago by its owners, the Hadassah Women’s Zionist Organization of America, that his contract will not be extended beyond December – has officially stated for the first time that he is ready to serve another two years and participate in the opening of the Ein Kerem branch’s monumental hospitalization tower that he has long planned and developed.

In a letter sent on Monday to HWZOA national president Nancy Falchuk and HMO board chairman Yossi Nitzani, Mor-Yosef said he would like to continue in the post and that in the time since the board voted not to renew his contract and he subsequently announced he would leave at the end of 2010, “both you and I have received many reactions from all segments of the Israeli public – including employees from all sectors, leading figures in the health care system, members of Knesset, government ministers, Israeli members of the HMO board, residents of Jerusalem – as well as from friends of Hadassah throughout the world.”

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He did not receive a response to his letter.

On January 6, a majority of the HWZOA-dominated board voted against Mor-Yosef, but Nitzani, a former Government Companies Authority head, abstained, while the Israeli members voted for a renewed contract. The board decision triggered widespread opposition among physicians and many others of the HMO’s 5,000 employees.

Mor-Yosef added that “at the same time, I have witnessed the growing rift between the leadership of HWZOA and the hospital’s physicians. These developments have not left me indifferent. Therefore, I would like to inform you that if HMO’s board of directors and HWZOA’s leadership revises their decision, I would be willing to extend my term for an additional two years, through December 2012.”

The Jerusalem Post reports that President Shimon Peres became distressed enough by the rift between HWZOA and HMO and the Mor-Yosef dispute that he has voiced interest in serving as a mediator to resolve it. However, Falchuk said on Wednesday night that she had not received any communication from Peres.

The Post learned that a telephone poll of HMO board members was held earlier this week, with the American members voting not to renew Mor-Yosef’s contract until December 2012 and the Israeli members – including Nitzani – voting in his favor. But as the Israelis are a minority, the board did not approve the director-general’s request to continue.

Falchuk’s spokesman commented that “on Sunday and Monday, there were separate phone conferences of the HWZOA national board, comprised of 240 American Hadassah women, and of the HMO board. Both reaffirmed the HMO board’s decision accepting Prof. Mor-Yosef’s decision not to request an extension of his contract.”

The doctors’ and other unions have declared that while HWZOA’s share of contributions to HMO’s annual operating budget has slumped to what they say is only 4 percent, the women based in New York continue to “have veto power on many critical decisions and policies” that have to be carried out in Jerusalem.

Asked to comment on the conflict, Falchuk said: “We understand that the decision to accept Prof. Mor-Yosef’s plan to step down after 10 years displeased members of the staff. We are in continued dialogue with them and working towards better understanding.”

Asked whether the rift between the HMO’s staff and its American owners could lead to a separation of the two, Falchuk said: “Never... HWZOA is committed as always to raising money for HMO in America and elsewhere. The $800 million raised for the HMO over the past nine years has come from many sources, including grateful patients. We look forward to building an even stronger, more strategic development infrastructure for HMO in Israel, bringing in grassroots monies, as well as more significant donor contributions... We have faith in the HMO staff. Just as we anticipated them working together with Prof. Mor-Yosef, we expect them to work together with the next director-general.”

On Wednesday, a registered letter from Shemer & Co. Law Offices in Tel Aviv, representing Falchuk and HWZOA, was sent to senior Hadassah anesthesiologist Prof. Yoel Donchin, threatening him with a libel suit a week after the Globes financial newspaper printed a letter he wrote bemoaning the decision not to renew Mor-Yosef’s tenure. Donchin called Mor-Yosef “one of the country’s most talented managers [who] created an outstanding medical culture and led HMO to significant achievements even amidst the global economic crisis.”

Donchin – who is head of the patient safety unit in the Hadassah University Medical Center’s department of anesthesiology and critical care medicine – said in response to the lawyer’s warning that he “looked forward to meeting them in court.”

A spokesman for the union of senior HMO physicians and others who oppose the action against Mor-Yosef said that the threatened lawsuit – “an attempt to frighten us,” was “ridiculous and childish and only strengthens our belief in the justice of our cause.”

The published letter, titled “From Henrietta to Nancy,” referred to HWZOA’s pioneering founder and first president, Henrietta Szold, and to the current national president. In the letter, Donchin described Falchuk as “an energetic and dynamic president who immediately replied to messages on her BlackBerry.”

But her “approach changed” after the rift with Mor-Yosef and the staff began, he said. Donchin went on that “the current president appears to be behaving as if she were the CEO of a profit-making corporation that views its overseas workers as if they were statistical data in need of updating (and perhaps should be used only for fund-raising purposes). Thus, in this view, if the board is displeased with the director-general, despite his success and his clear suitability to run a medical organization in Israel, he must be replaced as if he were the manager of a factory.”

The HWZOA’s lawyer maintained that the Donchin letter was “brutal” and “defamatory,” and demanded a “letter of apology written in a way that will be coordinated” with the lawyer and published as an ad in Globes declaring that the things he had written or hinted at were “false and misleading.”


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