Economic troubles cause food thefts at hospital

Staff at Haifa's Rambam hospital have recently become aware of a troubling new phenomenon - people hit so hard by economic problems that they are posing as patients or patients' relatives in order to get food for their families, reports Hospital officials said they had noticed that patients and their families seemed to be consuming a greater amount of food than usual, but for humanitarian reasons they would not act to curb the phenomenon. According to the report, hospital staff have noticed relatively healthy people staging complaints so that they can be hospitalized and be entitled to a hospital meal; and patients and their relatives - or people pretending to be patients or relatives - pilfering bread rolls, cheeses, fruit and vegetables from hospital trolleys in order to give them to their families. A hospital spokesman said it was clear that financial woes were the cause of the food thefts, and the hospital did not intend to act against them. "Every year 75,000 people are hospitalized in Rambam," the spokesman said. "We are aware that there are cases in which people are looking for a warm bed and food for a night, and are staging hospitalizations or examinations in the emergency room to get them. Despite this, in the framework of the humanitarian aims of the hospital, we will not act against this phenomenon, especially as the numbers are marginal." The report said that as well as food for patients being supplied by the hospital, numerous charities operated to provide food and assistance for patients' families.