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      Bikur Holim to Remain Open For Now

      Agreement reached: Bikur Holim employees will be paid for at least the next month. Solutions to keep hospital open will be examined.
      By Elad Benari
      First Publish: 1/2/2011, 8:44 PM / Last Update: 1/3/2011, 1:17 AM

      A temporary solution was found on Sunday that will keep the Bikur Holim Hospital in Jerusalem open for at least another month. Representatives of the hospital’s employees met with representatives of the Histadrut and the Ministry of Health on Sunday evening. During the meeting an agreement was reached, according to which the employees’ salaries will be paid for the next month while a working team consisting of members of the Histadrut, the Ministry of Health and the hospital’s employees will try to find a solution that will keep the hospital open.

      Dr. Efi Halperin, Chairman of the Bikur Holim doctors’ union, said during an interview with Arutz Sheva on Sunday: “We told the Prime Minister, who is also the Minister of Health, that we are removing all our responsibility in regards to the reporting of hospital employees for work, since the Prime Minister’s Office as well as the Finance and Health Ministries are refusing to support the continued existence of the hospital.”

      Halperin called on Netanyahu to reach a decision that would end the saga. “We ask the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance to please bring in more money to help the hospital to continue to operate for many years to come.”

      The hospital was in danger of closing due to lack of money. The association that runs the hospital announced that it is in the midst of a financial rehabilitation program, and that without immediate government help to the tune of 30 million shekels (nearly $8.5 million), the landmark hospital would have to close its doors.

      The Bikur Holim hospital was founded in 1826 in a residential building in the Old City of Jerusalem, moving into its own building in 1854. The present building, just off the downtown Jaffa St.-King George intersection, was completed in 1925, while the Old City hospital continued to treat the chronically ill until 1947. 

      Earlier on Sunday, Israel National News TV spoke to Dr. Yosef Liebman, Head of the Emergency Department at Bikur Cholim Hospital, who said that it is imperative that the hospital stay open.

      “[Bikur Cholim] gives the only answer to people who have life threatening conditions and cannot suffer the twenty minute wait to get to a different hospital because most of the hospitals in Jerusalem are further away and out of the center of the city,” said Dr. Liebman. “Also, it supplies medical care to the poor inner city population. I think it would be a tragedy of the highest proportion if this hospital closes.”