Hospitals criticize program to fortify them as 'fictitious'

Health Minister Ya'acov Ben-Yizri, who brought the proposal to the cabinet, praised the vote over the NIS 480 million bill.

hospital bed 88 (photo credit: )
hospital bed 88
(photo credit: )
The cabinet's NIS 480 million, four-year program to fortify several medical centers was approved on Sunday, but the news was greeted by criticism from some of the hospitals. Health Minister Ya'acov Ben-Yizri, who brought the proposal to the cabinet, praised the vote and said the work to protect staffers, patients and property in the hospitals from rocket and missile attacks must begin immediately. The ministry said that Rambam Medical Center in Haifa and Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon would be fortified, and that the Western Galilee Government Hospital in Nahariya, Poriya Hospital in Tiberias and the three Italian hospitals would get "upgraded protection." The money, Ben-Yizri said, would come from "sources within the government and outside the government." But Rambam said the program was "fictitious" and placed responsibility for protecting lives on private donors. The Health Ministry's program, said officials of Rambam - a state-owned hospital - was "all public relations. It is not clear. Its time schedule stretches on for too long, and there is no real commitment to transfer all the money needed... We object to the fact that the lessons of [last summer's] war were not learned and that the government, despite all its declarations, is not doing enough to correct the shortcomings and failures that were exposed regarding protection of hospitals. Instead of dealing with them, the Finance Ministry's budgets division has prepared a proposal that will never be carried out." Rambam said it continued to demand budget directly from the state so it could carry out the renovation needed to protect the hospital. Administrators said they were considering going to the Winograd Committee into the failures of the Second Lebanon War to look into the problems of protecting the hospitals, as well. Meanwhile, Ziv Hospital in Safed - a state-owned hospital that took a direct hit during the war and suffered damage - complained that it had been left out of the fortification program completely. No comment was available from the minister or his spokesman. Ziv officials said they couldn't understand why the northernmost hospital that treated the most soldiers and civilians during the Second War in Lebanon had been left out.