Director-general who saved Bikur Holim replaced

The Harvard-trained Bar-Zion wouldn't comment on why he was leaving, nor would he say whether it was voluntary.

Raphael Pollack 224 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Raphael Pollack 224 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Jerusalem economist who saved Bikur Holim Hospital from collapse after it went into receivership four years ago and was then purchased by billionaire Arkadi Gaydamak last year, has been replaced by its medical director, Dr. Raphael Pollack, who will be acting director-general. Gaydamak and his 10-member board of directors will issue a tender in the next few days to find a new head to replace Bari Bar-Zion. Because the hospital is a privately owned institution, Gaydamak did not have to issue a tender to choose a new director-general. The Harvard-trained Bar-Zion, brought in by the Justice, Finance and Health ministries to replace the previous management, would not comment on why he was leaving, nor would he say whether it was voluntary or because of actions taken by Gaydamak and board chairman Dudi Zilbershlag. The official hospital press release devoted only one sentence to Bar-Zion, saying Zilbershlag "thanks Mr. Bari Bar-Zion for his contribution to the hospital during the period of receivership." The 200-bed hospital, now private, was previously owned by a voluntary organization that went bankrupt and failed to deposit pension money and other funds owed to the staffers. Until Gaydamak purchased the venerable general hospital off Jaffa Road and promised he would run it as a medical institution rather than sell the property for its real estate value, retirees received only partial pension payments on a month-to-month basis from the Treasury. Now, since Bar-Zion succeeded in expanding medical services, lowering medical negligence insurance payments and canceling Clalit Health Services' intention to stop referring its patients there, it has been operating stably and even made a small profit. Pollack, an experienced obstetrician who studied medicine at McGill University in Canada and taught at Yeshiva University's Einstein Medical School, could apply for the tender along with other applicants inside the hospital and outside, including foreign candidates, or remain medical director. He said Wednesday that while serving in his post for about two years, he continued to work as an obstetrician and hopes to do so in the future. Zilbershlag - a well-connected and wealthy businessman, publisher of a haredi paper, founder and head of the Meir Panim network of soup kitchens and chairman of ZAKA rescue and recovery organization - was named chairman of the hospital board by Gaydamak when he purchased the hospital in November. Gaydamak does not intervene in its ongoing management. The hospital, located on the edge of a haredi neighborhood, caters largely - but not solely - to the haredi community, whose support Gaydamak needs if he runs for Jerusalem mayor.