Bikur Cholim’s future unclear as salaries go unpaid

Jerusalem Hospital's staff strikes after two months of partial or no pay; emergency room closed for 6th day.

Bikur Cholim 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Bikur Cholim 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The Jerusalem Labor Court on Monday night deliberated whether to issue restraining orders to the remaining workers at Jerusalem’s teetering Bikur Cholim Hospital.
Employees walked off work after receiving only 70 percent of their September wages and nothing of their October salaries.
In addition, deductions for pensions and special funds have not been paid to the workers.
The obstetrics department – which has been the mainstay of the 190-year-old hospital because of the surrounding ultra-Orthodox population – has been closed to deliveries since Sunday night, and the emergency room has not been allowed to accept new cases for several days.
According to Health Ministry officials, there are only 13 premature babies, one surgical patient, 50 women after delivery and 14 complex nursing patients at the hospital now, far fewer than can be accommodated in its more than 200 beds.
Competing Shaare Zedek Medical Center continues to examine the offer of taking control of Bikur Cholim and running it, but there are many dozens of issues that would have to be resolved. It could take two months to make such a move.
In the meantime, pessimistic voices predicted that Bikur Cholim would shut down before a merger.
MK Dr. Rachel Adatto (Kadima), head of the Knesset Health Lobby, visited Bikur Cholim on Monday. She said she has been closely following the institution for two years.
Adatto, who is unlikely to be in the 19th Knesset because her Kadima Party is disintegrating, claimed Monday that “due to failing management, a corrupt voluntary organization and two-faced government ministries, Bikur Cholim Hospital will shut down after 190 years of activity. A significant portion of the 550 workers will find themselves unemployed in a short time. The Treasury and the Health Ministry must immediately ensure the payment of the last wages to all the workers.”
But her statement was not backed up by firm evidence of “corruption” or that the hospital is fated to close.