Hadassah director resigns after 14 months

Unnamed sources say resignation the result of financial disputes between Kokia and the HWZOA’s leadership.

New tower in Hadassah Hospital 370 (photo credit: Judy Siegel-Itzkovich)
New tower in Hadassah Hospital 370
(photo credit: Judy Siegel-Itzkovich)
The Hadassah Medical Organization’s 850 physicians, 2,000 nurses and 1,000 paramedical and support staff – along with much of the country’s medical system – expressed shock on Tuesday following an announcement that the organization’s director- general, Prof. Ehud Kokia, was resigning after only 14 months in office.
The joint announcement from the Hadassah Women’s Zionist Organization of America (HWZOA) and the HMO, which it owns and financially supports, did not provide any clear explanation for the former Maccabi Health Services director-general’s sudden decision to leave. But unnamed sources said it was the result of financial disputes between Kokia and the HWZOA’s leadership, which said in meetings with Kokia in New York and Jerusalem that it would provide only $19 million annually in “balance grants” and that he must take immediate efficiency measures to cut the medical organization’s NIS 200 million-plus deficit by NIS 100m. Kokia felt it was impossible to make such a commitment, according to the sources.
With Sha’are Zedek Medical Center’s recent takeover of the bankrupt Bikur Cholim Hospital, Kupat Holim Meuhedet’s purchase of the Misgav Ladach OB/GYN hospital over a decade ago for outpatient treatment only, and now the HMO’s serious financial situation, only Sha’are Zedek is in a robust state.
Kokia’s resignation – which, according to sources, was his decision alone and not a dismissal – comes only a few months after the HWZOA’s 100th birthday in Jerusalem and its official opening of the $360m. new Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospitalization Tower in Ein Kerem.
Kokia’s predecessor, Prof. Shlomo Mor-Yosef – who is now director-general of the National Insurance Institute – was forced out after 11 years by then-national HWZOA president Nancy Falchuk.
The 63-year-old Kokia is leaving in three months. During that period, an international company with an Israeli branch, which Hadassah has hired, will set up a search committee to chose a replacement and recommend ways to reduce its financial troubles (for a reported fee of several million dollars).
The HWZOA instructed Kokia not to make any comments to the press about his announcement, and the New York-based organization also declined to comment.
However, the outgoing director-general did send an email message to all HMO staffers, in which he praised them and the famed medical institution. Still, he said that “after a number of months, it became clear to me and my management team that the deficit in cash flow was greater than reported to me when I started my position, and that the situation reflects a larger operational budget deficit that has gone on for several years.”
In the joint statement, the HWZOA and HMO called on the government to provide financial help to ease the process of financial recovery.
But the Health Ministry spokeswoman did not answer The Jerusalem Post’s request for comment on the resignation and financial support.
Kokia’s statement implied criticism of Mor-Yosef, who declined to comment, but Hadassah insiders said the latter was not at fault. One suggested that the HWZOA was making unfair demands on Kokia – and on Mor-Yosef – and had cut its contributions to the HMO.
Hadassah veterans said Kokia had been warned before he left Maccabi about HMO’s precarious financial situation, but that he had not thought it was so serious.