Impending loss of anesthesiologists threatens Bikur Cholim

IMA calls on Netanyahu to “immediately” solve the financial problems of Jerusalem’s 143-year-old hospital.

Bikur Cholim Hospital 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Bikur Cholim Hospital 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Israel Medical Association on Tuesday called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who is formally the health minister, to “immediately” solve the financial problems of Jerusalem’s 143-year-old Bikur Cholim Hospital.
The hospital, which will close if it doesn’t receive a NIS 30 million state grant, was told by a number of anesthesiologists that they were planning to leave.
Anesthesiology is an undermanned medical specialty around the country, but if Bikur Cholim loses some, it will be unable to offer surgical and obstetrics services.
At the end of December the hospital was given a month’s worth of funding for salaries and other ongoing costs when Clalit Health Services advanced it the money it pays for members‚ hospitalizations and treatments. It is not clear whether January salaries will be paid on time.
In February, negotiations began with Russian Israeli tycoon Arkadi Gaydamak, who purchased the property four years ago but for some time has not been giving it money to cover its expenses despite his commitment to do so.
Gaydamak has said he will give the hospital more money, but only on condition that the Treasury match it shekel for shekel and that he be allowed to build a high-rise building behind one of the protected historic buildings that contains the delivery rooms and other facilities.
So far, the Treasury has refused to give any money to the hospital, claiming it is privately owned and prefers that it close down, with the slack to be taken up by the city’s other hospitals.
IMA chairman Dr. Leonid Eidelman said that around 700 employees will be dismissed if the hospital closes, but the uncertainty has already induced some of them to seek work elsewhere.
Eidelman said there is no government plan to provide proper medical care for Bikur Cholim patients, especially Jerusalemite women in obstetrics and premature babies needing neonatal intensive care facilities.
The Jerusalem Post asked the Prime Minister’s Office, the Health Ministry and the Treasury for comments, but none was received.