The Assuta public hospital due to open in Ashdod next year has already begun to interview and hire department heads and other senior doctors, medical residents and nurses.The hospital is being built for the government by Assuta Medical Centers a private corporation, which is entitled, according to a signed deal with the Treasury and Health Ministry, to offer 25 percent of its activities in the form of private medical services (sharap).However, reconsideration of the accord may lead to Assuta getting paid hundreds of millions of shekels in exchange for forgoing the right to offer the private services. Otherwise, it will be the only state-owned hospital allowed to provide private medical treatment.The hospital’s catchment area includes 220,000 residents of Ashdod and an additional 250,000 more in nearby cities and towns. Hospitals in Ashkelon and Rehovot have voiced concern that the new hospital will attract medical personnel and patients from them.Assuta Ashdod will need 200 doctors and 500 nurses, as well 500 administrative and technical staffers. Hospital director-general, lawyer Rahel Shmueli said that new employees will “have the chance of their life to be part of turning a vision into reality and to lead a different kind of public medicine in Israel.Construction began four years ago and “started from zero,” said Shmueli. It will be academically oriented and enable doctors to teach, conduct research as well as treat patients. Hospital director Prof. Haim Bitterman added that the aim is to “integrate the most advanced medicine and provide a high standard of service.” All the other Assuta Hospitals are completely private and do not offer emergency rooms, intensive care units and other services demanded of public hospitals.The hospital grounds will cover 7 hectares, with a builtup area of 70,000 square meters. There will be a main hospitalization building of five stories and an additional fourfloor structure with two underground levels for clinics and emergencies.