Hadassah, IMA denounce threats against personnel

Haredim have pasted announcements on walls in their neighborhoods castigating Hadassah.

hadassah ein karem 248.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
hadassah ein karem 248.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Hadassah Medical Organization expressed its "disgust" about the threats to its deputy director-general, Dr. Yair Birnbaum, by extreme haredi elements in connection with the hospitalization and treatment of the three-year-old boy whose mother is suspected of abusing and starving him. Haredim have also pasted announcements on walls in their neighborhoods castigating Hadassah and handed out inflammatory leaflets outside the Ein Karem hospital. Birnbaum, an observant Jew who lives in a religious neighborhood, is being protected by security personnel. Other Hadassah staffers have also been threatened. The boy, who weighed only 7 kilos at his lowest point, is gradually recuperating; he is gaining weight and is able to feed himself and move about. Hadassah experts said he would almost certainly have died if hospital personnel had not realized after numerous tests and consultations that he had no physical disease and that his mother had apparently prevented him from eating due to Munchausen-by-proxy-syndrome. Family members and supporters claim the boy had cancer and was given chemotherapy for months, which the hospital categorically denies. "Hadassah carries out throughout the year, and even now, ongoing contacts with representatives of the Eda Haredit, to preserve the good relationship that has existed for many years with the community," spokeswoman Yael Bossem-Levy said. "We will continue to carry out our mission to give the best medical care through the devotion of our doctors, nurses, social workers and others." Hadassah "calls on all elements involved to leave the boy and his health outside the discussions and arguments being carried out in the legal sector." Israel Medical Association chairman Dr. Yoram Blachar also denounced the threats against Hadassah, arguing that what is occurring "brings us back to those dark days in which doctors were persecuted for delivering bad news to patients." The IMA head said he was very worried about the verbal violence and physical threats and the false claims that Hadassah was responsible for the toddler's condition. "It is slander against a medical institution that has treated so many people of all walks of life, including haredim, and who owe their lives to the hospital," Blachar added. As a pediatrician, the IMA head said that he was very impressed by the toddler's improved mood and physical condition since he was separated from his mother a few weeks ago. "This is not automatic, but due to the excellent care given to the helpless child. His welfare should be the main concern," he said. To attack Hadassah "causes damage to Israeli society in general," concluded Blachar, who called on the Health, Justice and Internal Security ministries to stand behind the hospital and take firm action against those who have been violent and spread slander.