Geriatric-psychiatric hostels exposed for poor care

New contractor to be chosen by tender to run hotels for Holocaust survivors following Ma'ariv expose showing poor medical care, nursing.

yaacov litzman face 298 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
yaacov litzman face 298
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
A new tender will be issued by the Health Ministry to replace the for-profit company – originally established by ministry officials – to run geriatric-psychiatric hostels for Holocaust survivors on the grounds of the Shaare Menashe Mental Health Center in Pardess Hanna, and the Lev Hasharon Mental Health Center in Pardesiya, Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman announced on Monday.
The announcement followed an expose by the Hebrew daily Ma’ariv that claimed the company, the Association for Public Health, had been providing very poor care.
The ministry said that inadequate manpower, poor nursing and medical care, and other problems had been confirmed by ministry inspectors. Ministry director-general Dr. Ronni Gamzu said the company would be replaced by another firm.
The hostels were privatized a few years ago, as was the School Health Service, which the Association for Public Health also ran badly four or five years ago before being replaced by two other companies. The ministry has said these two firms have also failed and that it was planning to replace them.
Litzman said the matter of the hostels would receive high priority and that the Association for Public Health would remain under contract only until September, after which another company will be chosen to run them. The ministry said it would pay for the hostels’ renovation and allocate to them all the money it had budgeted for the benefit of Holocaust survivors who were ill. He added that he would insist that the new contractor provide all the services needed to promote the dignity of the hostels’ residents, who have suffered so much in their lifetimes.
The Maariv expose claimed that the scores of survivors at the two hostels live in wet, crumbling rooms, have too little to eat and often fall and suffer fractures due to a lack of supervision. With little social activity and therapy, most of the residents sit around doing nothing, the paper charged.
Before the hostels were privatized two years ago under pressure by the Treasury, they were owned by the Health Ministry.
Patients at Shaare Menashe were reportedly in the worst condition and ate with their hands because tables lacked cutlery and tablecloths. Outdated medications were found at the Pardesiya hostel, where attendants bathed residents of the opposite sex. Residents lacked bells to ring for help, and floors were often covered with blankets to sop up dripping water, according to the report. In addition, many residents wore institutional clothes, having none of their own.
Many of these residents have no family, as they were suffering from psychiatric problems when they arrived after the Holocaust and did not marry; thus, there is no one to visit them.
The Association for Public Health denied Ma’ariv’s claims and said that one could always find problems at any institution.
About 230,000 Holocaust survivors live in Israel today, and about one in 10 requires psychiatric care, although only some receive it.