'It’s life or death for Bikur Cholim this week'

Hospital board chairman says Bikur Cholim may be forced to close after 143 years.

Bikur Cholim Hospital 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Bikur Cholim Hospital 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Jerusalem’s venerable Bikur Cholim Hospital, whose continued operation has been hanging on by a thread despite Treasury opposition, will either live or die this week, according to board chairman Dr. Yoram Blachar.
He told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that the 650 remaining workers will either get their February salaries in a few days, if funding is obtained, or the hospital will be forced into temporary receivership by the Jerusalem District Court, which will bring a final end to the bankrupt 143-year-old institution.
The Treasury is still determined to shut it down, saying that the Hadassah Medical Organization and/or Shaare Zedek Medical Center could take up the slack – although no one has explained how either hospital would find delivery rooms and neonatal intensive care beds for the thousands of births that take place at Bikur Cholim annually.
During the past few weeks, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu – who is formally the health minister – has started to personally address Bikur Cholim’s financial problems, which had not done before. Netanyahu explained his preferences to Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman, a Gur hassid who is under personal pressure to find a way to keep Bikur Cholim alive. Health Ministry Director-General Dr. Ronni Gamzu has also spent long hours trying to find a solution for the crisis.
Treasury opposition is very difficult to head off. The Finance Ministry has for months refused to comment, giving the identical comment from the beginning that the two major hospital organizations should be taking over Bikur Cholim and that the downtown hospital is not necessary for Jerusalem’s healthcare.