NIS 4m. gives Bikur Cholim a month's lease on life

Funds may be a delaying tactic by Treasury until beds, third of the personnel can be divided among J'lem's 3 main hospitals.

Bikur Cholim 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Bikur Cholim 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Jerusalem’s Bikur Cholim Hospital received a one-month reprieve after the Finance Ministry agreed to an injection of more than NIS 4 million to keep it going, rather than closing it for good on Monday.
But there were signs that this was merely a delaying tactic by the Treasury, until the beds and about a third of the personnel could be divided among the city’s three main hospitals so that the venerable, 143-year-old institution could be closed.
RELATED:Bikur Cholim could get a second lease on life Knesset to decide if Bikur Cholim hospital lives or dies Bikur Cholim on way to closure as board members resign
On Sunday evening, the Health Ministry announced a “temporary solution” after Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman held a meeting with representatives of the two ministries and the Histadrut.
Because the meeting had been scheduled for 8 p.m. and suddenly moved up to 5 p.m. “so that Litzman could attend,” representatives of the hospital management and doctors’ representatives could not attend, said the Health Ministry spokeswoman.
Litzman said that the “temporary and limited solution requires all the factors to continue to find a real, long-term solution, while looking at all possible alternatives to bring an end to the difficult crisis of Bikur Cholim,” adding that “the main worry should be the continuance of medical support and ensuring the future of hundreds of workers.”
But Bikur Cholim’s management and doctors said in a statement that “in the past, the Treasury said it had no money. So where did it all of a sudden find more than NIS 4m.? If we had been at the meeting, we wouldn’t have agreed to this pitiful decision.
“This is foot-dragging, and the Treasury hopes that during the month, some of the workers will agree to sacrifice some of their colleagues while finding a way to shut the hospital down. It’s clear that the other hospitals cannot absorb more than 200 workers, so more than 400 will be unemployed.
“In the past, the Treasury has said that the hospital staff are a trivial matter. We don’t understand why...the Histadrut agreed to it,” they added.
“If bureaucrats in the Health and Finance ministries think they can solve the crisis without including all the relevant professional groups, and especially those who manage the hospital and treat the patients, they may be surprised,” said doctors’ union chairman Dr. Effie Halperin.
The hospital and the doctors had said last week that since the institution could not pay its insurance bill beyond December 31, it could not take responsibility for patients beyond Sunday. Workers had been told they would not get their salaries on January 9.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat issued a statement calling on all those involved to “show responsibility and ensure that any arrangement in the future will include the hundreds of staffers who are in danger of losing their jobs.”
He suggested a partnership between Bikur Cholim and “one of the big hospitals in the city, Hadassah [University Hospital in Mount Scopus and Hadassah University Hospital in Ein Kerem] or Shaare Zedek or with one of the health funds to have Bikur Cholim function as an arm in the center of the city and give the best and most professional care to meet the medical needs of the population.”