After decades of discussions and delays, it appears that the city of Ashdod is finally set to get its own hospital after the government agreed to provide a grant of NIS 130 million for the construction, reports www.nrg.co.il. A tender for the work has already been officially issued, and three companies are expected to compete to build and run the new hospital. According to the report, public pressure has existed for decades for a hospital in Ashdod, which today has a population of more than 200,000. But only now has the inter-departmental committee charged with building the hospital - on which sit representatives of the Finance and Health Ministries, as well as the Israel Lands Authority - agreed to provide NIS 130 million in funding for the hospital, and the tender was officially posted last week. Three companies which earlier passed an initial selection process are expected to compete for the tender: Assuta Medical Centers; Machon Mor Medical Information, and Kiryat Refuah Ashdod. The tender calls for the winner to plan, build and operate the new hospital. The competing companies have until November 17 to present their offers. The report said the hospital would be built on 70 dunams of land in the east of Ashdod, and would include all the departments necessary for a public general hospital, including an emergency room and intensive care, surgical, maternity, pediatric, cardiac and orthopedic wards. The builder will be required to have the hospital operational within five years of receiving approval for the plans, and will be allowed to offer private medical services that constitute up to 25 percent of the hospital's earnings, as is the case at the Shaare Zedek and Hadassah hospitals in Jerusalem.