Ending a crisis

The Health Ministry has produced an arrangement that aims to end an enduring conflict between Magen David Adom and United Hatzalah.

MDA ambulance dedication in Jerusalem (photo credit: MAARIT KYTOHARJU)
MDA ambulance dedication in Jerusalem
(photo credit: MAARIT KYTOHARJU)
While the crisis at Hadassah-University Medical Center’s pediatric hemato-oncology department drags on, another medical field crisis seems, thankfully, to have been resolved.
The Health Ministry has produced an arrangement that aims to end an enduring conflict between Magen David Adom and United Hatzalah. If the arrangement is accepted by the sides the main beneficiaries will be the public, which has suffered from the lack of cooperation between MDA and UH.
The two organizations have been at odds for years. For some time now MDA has refused to cooperate with UH.
Emergency calls received by MDA have not been relayed to UH. Meanwhile, UH launched a campaign calling on Israelis who need emergency medicine to use UH’s call center, not MDA’s. The campaign has been particularly successful in large haredi communities, where UH became the first choice in times of emergency.
Much of the fighting between the two organizations seemed to have been about egos and power and not about delivering the very best and fastest medical aid, for which Israel is so famous.
Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman and Dr. Sefi Mendelovich, the medical adviser to ministry director-general Moshe Bar Siman Tov, worked for months on the arrangement, in the form of a circular that regulates work procedures and cooperation between them. The aim is to optimize and maximize the organizations’ emergency activity and benefit the public. MDA will be responsible for developing a joint smartphone application that will be accessible to staff and volunteers at MDA and volunteers at UH. Until now, the two organizations have been working with separate, incompatible apps.
We hope the two have put their differences behind them. Both organizations have important, complementary services to offer the nation. Instead of wasting energy fighting each other they owe it to Israelis to do what both know best – save lives.
MDA is the larger organizations that provides a wide range of services from blood collection, processing and supply to emergency medical training for laymen, paramedics and medics. MDA provides humanitarian aid to disaster-hit locations around the world; it collects food for those in need; it tracks down lost people; it conducts workshops worldwide on how to manage mass casualty events.
UH, in contrast, is much smaller and focuses primarily on rapid response. The organizations has about 3,000 volunteers and employs ambucycles that can provide first aid but cannot provide transportation to the hospital. However, what UH lacks in size it more than makes up for in speed and efficiency. Response times are fast, particularly in cities where hundreds of volunteers are concentrated.
UH has deployed an advanced GPS tracking technology and has expanded the community-based model first launched in American Jewish neighborhoods to a nationwide model. UH aims to provide initial treatment until an MDA ambulance and paramedics arrive to continue the treatment and then transport the sick or injured to the hospital.
Representatives from both MDA and UH welcomed the Healthy Ministry’s new arrangement. UH founder and president Eli Beer told The Jerusalem Post’s health and science editor, Judy Siegel-Itzkovich, “This new arrangement is exactly what we wanted. We hope to work together with MDA.”
MDA spokesman Zaki Heller expressed his thanks to Litzman and the other officials at the Health Ministry for forging the compromise.
Israel is a world leader in emergency medicine. The tiny Jewish state is disproportionately represented across the globe as a provider of aid to disaster-stricken zones and has developed unique and innovative ways to provide first aid quicker and more efficiently.
Jews place a high value on life and, therefore, have a long tradition of excelling at medicine. In its short lifespan, Israel, more than most countries, has had to face the ravages of war and terrorism. As a result, providing quick, efficient medical aid is particularly relevant to Israel’s dayto- day reality.
For too long, Israelis were deprived of the very best and speediest emergency medicine services due to the fighting between UH and MDA.
We hope that the Health Ministry’s arrangement will end a pointless dispute.