A time to heal

After more than 18 months, a recovery plan for Hadassah Medical Organization’s financial woes has finally been signed.

Doctors protest outside the emergency room in Ein Kerem during a February strike (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Doctors protest outside the emergency room in Ein Kerem during a February strike
Last week ended with what seems at first glance to be a solid and encouraging solution to the Hadassah financial crisis, as the parties signed an agreement to stabilize the medical organization.
The iconic establishment, which has given Israel a reputation as a center of modern medical care and research, was on the verge of being lost under heavy deficits and lots of bad blood among the owners – the Hadassah Women’s Zionist Organization of America (HWZOA), the management of the Hadassah University Medical Centers, and the various staff associations. Strikes, overnight sit-ins, demonstrations, and media campaigns from the various sides – including quite a lot of mudslinging – along with serious threats that this really could be the end of the Hadassah Medical Organization (HMO), seem to have reached a satisfactory ending that includes significant financial support from the state.
In a short conversation the day after the agreement’s signing, HWZOA president Marcie Natan describes the deal as “a milestone in our history and a step toward a longterm renewal of the Hadassah Medical Organization’s financial and operational future.”
Mentioning the new Sarah Wetsman Davidson Tower, which the HWZOA helped establish at the Hadassah University Medical Center in Ein Kerem, Natan explains that the tower was a step toward improving the hospital’s approach to patients.
“We wanted it to be focused on the needs of the patients, their comfort,” she says. “That is why we have spacious rooms here for two people only, and also for one patient. I thought that they should all be for one patient, but I was told that Israelis would rather have a roommate in the hospital. But otherwise everything is aimed to maximize the well-being and the comfort of the patients and their relatives. It’s a totally different thing than what we had till now.”
Asked what other changes she is expecting, Natan smiles and adds that she wants to ensure that the treatment at Hadassah moves from a focus on the illness to a focus on the patient.
“We have total confidence in our doctors – they are the best – but I would really like to see more empathy for the human being behind the illness, behind the statistics and so on. I want to be sure that the person who is sick is at the center of the encounter with Hadassah, something that hasn’t always been [the case],” she says.
Last week, Prof. Tamar Yablonski-Peretz, a renowned oncologist and head of Hadassah’s Sharett Institute, was appointed the medical organization’s new director-general, replacing Prof.
Avigdor Kaplan, who resigned almost a month ago. Yablonski- Peretz is only the interim director for the moment; within six months, a new director will have to be approved and appointed.
Asked if she would like to see Yablonski-Peretz become directorgeneral permanently, Natan says it is a possibility she would welcome.
She emphasizes that Yablonski-Peretz – the first woman to hold such a high position in the organization – “hasn’t been chosen because she is a woman, but of course, for us, a Zionist women’s organization, it is a source of satisfaction. Tami Peretz has been chosen because she is an outstanding physician and has proven outstanding skills of management at the Sharett Institute.”
Asked about the implications of the government’s financial participation in the recovery plan, Natan says this should be viewed as a sign of something much larger than state support.
“This is a new era for the HWZOA and for the HMO, of course, but it is also a turning point in the relationship between the Jewish American communities and the State of Israel,” she says.
“From today, we are not only supporting [from abroad], we are full partners [with the Israeli government]. We will, of course, continue to fund-raise and to support, but we want to be more than that – we want to be equal partners and to be involved in decisions as well.”