Shaare Zedek gets nod to take over Bikur Cholim

Last obstacle to integration of the failing, 190-year-old hospital into the capitals successful medical center is eliminated.

Bikur Cholim 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Bikur Cholim 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The last obstacle to the integration of Jerusalem’s financially failing, 190-yearold Bikur Cholim Hospital into the capital’s successful, 110-year-old Shaare Zedek Medical Center was eliminated on Thursday night.
The papers for the agreement will probably be signed by Shaare Zedek directorgeneral Prof. Jonathan Halevy and Bikur Cholim officials this week, The Jerusalem Post has learned, but there probably will not be a formal ceremony.
Shaare Zedek will receive an unspecified sum from the Treasury to finance deficits and costs of integration, and it will hire 73 percent of Bikur Cholim’s employees – most of the nurses, many of the physicians and fewer of the administrative and maintenance workers.
A receiver was appointed by the Jerusalem District Court, and the voluntary haredi organization that was responsible for running the hospital will voluntarily disband.
This brings an end to over five years of financial and political struggles over Bikur Cholim. Shaare Zedek has over 700 beds, while Bikur Cholim had more than 200 at its peak, but numerous staffers – who still have not received their last salary payment – have left for greener pastures.
Halevy sent a personal letter on Thursday to all of his medical center’s employees to explain the historic step, encouraged and made possible by the Finance Ministry – which preferred it over the Hadassah Medical Organization, which has a significant deficit.
Because the voluntary organization that ran the hospital failed to deposit all of the workers’ pension money, the remaining workers will not receive their full pensions. However, they could get part if the owner of Bikur Cholim’s properties, Russian oligarch Arkady Gaydamak, decides to sell them. At the same time, since some of the buildings are historic and cannot be destroyed, not much can be sold unless new structures are built on top of them.
For the time being, the obstetrics and gynecology, internal medicine and pediatrics departments will continue to function at Bikur Cholim at Straus and Hanevi’im streets in the center of town. The surgical department will handle only low-risk operations, and Shaare Zedek’s surgeons will be able to perform operations in both hospitals.
In addition, the once prestigious cardiology department will function on an ambulatory basis downtown.
The hospital’s emergency room will be run as an urgent care center by TEREM, the private and very popular network of clinics.
Patients who cannot be treated at the TEREM facility will be sent to the hospital emergency room of their choice, either at Shaare Zedek or the two Hadassah University Medical Centers.
The obstetrics wards of Bikur Cholim have delivered at their peak some 5,000 babies – mostly to ultra- Orthodox parents. When it integrates with Shaare Zedek, which delivers 16,000 babies a year on its campus opposite Mount Herzl, the medical center will deliver more babies annually than any other hospital in the world – a record currently held by a Texas hospital.
Shaare Zedek will eventually have more space for facilities that will not operate at Bikur Cholim, as its “Building of the New Generation” is currently under construction and will be completed in 18 months.