J'lem Mayor Barkat calls for state aid for Hadassah Medical Organization

Israel Medical Association head concerned that Hadassah might be dragged down, become a center of lower quality.

Yael German and Nir Barkat 370 (photo credit: Avi Hayoun)
Yael German and Nir Barkat 370
(photo credit: Avi Hayoun)
Political figures and medical administrators urged the government to give generous financial assistance to the Hadassah Medical Organization, whose two university hospitals in Jerusalem provide tertiary health care to 60 percent of Jerusalem-area residents and many beyond.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat on Tuesday told an audience of mostly 1,300 laymen at the Seventh Israel Medical Conference organized by HMO at the Jerusalem International Convention Center that “Hadassah is one of the country’s top national assets, and nearly everyone in Jerusalem owes their own lives, quality of life and the births of their children to HMO and to Shaare Zedek Medical Center.”
“I believe [the state] must give Hadassah help for it to survive this crisis. Much of our infrastructure in Jerusalem is based on it. It must be helped to stand up on its own feet again and even to expand its services and employees so it can meet its potential,” said the mayor.
HMO director-general Avigdor Kaplan said last week that it suffers from a running deficit of NIS 300 million and a longterm debt (including employees’ pension commitments) of NIS 1.3 billion.
As the owner of voluntary hospitals not owned by the Health Ministry or by a health fund, HMO has many expenses for which it is not reimbursed.
The annual grants of its owner, the Hadassah Women’s Zionist Organization of America – which recently opened an advanced $360 million new hospitalization tower – has dropped by half in the last year or two.
Barkat said the government understands the great potential of biotech and medical care as a way of marketing its know-how to Eastern and Western Europe and North America, and that HMO is a major player in providing this know-how. Thus, it must help the organization get over its current financial problems, he concluded.
Israel Medical Association chairman Dr. Leonid Eidelman added: “We are worried that Hadassah might be dragged down and become a center of moderate or even lower quality because of its financial problems.
There has been Hadassah for 100 years, and it raised many generations of doctors, department chairmen and unit heads around the country. The future of Hadassah very much worries me. We need a strong HMO, and everyone must do everything he can to prevent the collapse of this place.”
Clalit Health Services director- general Eli Defes said: “It would be terrible for Jerusalem and Jerusalemites if something prevents HMO from functioning properly.”
Meanwhile, Health Minister Yael German – referring to her ministry’s new month-long campaign to give oral polio vaccine (OPV) to 150,000 southern- district children up to the age of nine-and-a-half years – said that children who have already received injectable vaccine (IPV) were already protected.
But parents were asked to bring in children for two drops of oral vaccine to protect indirectly infants and children who were not vaccinated, as well as older people with weak immune systems, who could contract the paralytic disease.
Just as the national health insurance system was motivated by the desire for equity for all, those asked to get OPV were also providing mutual protection for those who need it, she added.
German said that anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 children are healthy carriers of the virus, according to tests of sewage samples. By Tuesday, some 8,000 of the 150,000 children had been brought in for vaccination – a significantly lower pace that needed to give the two drops of vaccine to all 150,000 within a month. Soon the ministry will determine whether the spread of the wild virus requires wider vaccination or whether children only in the South are enough, she said.
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder and president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, said that his organization will spend a total of NIS 100 million a year for a decade on assisting lowincome elderly people who live at home, especially those who live alone.
His director-general, Zion Gabai, said that of the 800,000 elderly Israelis, 380,000 are over 75, and a large share are lowincome and lonely.
The voluntary organization, which raises money abroad – mostly from non-Jews – will help the worst off to buy food, provide them with delivered groceries and daily hot meals, help them cover payments for prescription medications and send volunteers to keep them company.
“We want to help hundreds of thousands, especially Holocaust survivors, to live out their lives in dignity,” Gabai said, adding that the project will begin in Jerusalem and the South.