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Hadassah Releases Open Letter to Government over Strike

Hadassah women's organization, the non-profit behind Hadassah Medical Center, calls on government to end Jerusalem hospital strike.
By Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 2/7/2014, 11:33 AM

Hospital staff on strike
Hospital staff on strike
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The Hadassah Women's Organization released an open letter to the public and the Israeli government Friday calling for the end of the ongoing strikes at Jerusalem's Hadassah Ein Kerem and Hadassah Mount Scopus hospitals.

The letter reads: 

We, the members of Hadassah, had a dream. A big dream. We wanted to establish modern medicine in the yishuv as our part in building the modern State of Israel. We set up clinics and hospitals from Metulla to Eilat. With the doctors, nurses and loyal staff from Israel and the Diaspora, we saw this dream come true. This has been and continues to be a partnership between the Jewish people of the Diaspora and in Israel.

The billions of dollars and enormous efforts were given with love and with no strings attached. We are proud to be partners in the achievements of Israeli medicine.

One of our major contributions was establishing and supporting the Hadassah Medical Organization(HMO), Israel's premier academic medical center with its two hospitals Hadassah Ein Kerem and Hadassah Mount Scopus. These hospitals have served the public of Israel, providing leadership in medical care, research and teaching. As a public hospital, our doors are open to all.

Graduates of the medical school and physicians and nurses trained at Hadassah have gone forth to the cities and periphery of the country. We have provided the more than million residents of greater Jerusalem and those around the country with hospital care since we opened our first clinic in 1913, and our first Hadassah Hospital in 1918.

We have always been devoted to making Jerusalem the health and health-science research center of the country. We are the city's largest non-governmental employer. Hadassah has elevated the city's global prestige.

Financial problems as a result of the crisis in the national health system have beset the hospitals and have resulted in an operational deficit. A recovery plan has been outlined to reduce the deficit and increase revenue.

At the same time, Hadassah Hospitals have never been profit-first institutions while accepting patients with the most serious diseases and catastrophic injuries.

We call on the people of Israel to join with us in raising our voices to guarantee the future of Hadassah and Jerusalem as a beacon of medical excellence. We need the Government  of Israel to partner with HMO and HWZOA to  ensure an immediate positive resolution to the crisis. 

The letter surfaces less than one day after the Israel Medical Federation and employees of the Hadassah hospitals in Jerusalem filed suit against hospital management in the National Labor Court, attempting to get a declaration of a labor dispute that could lead to a full-fledged strike.

The ongoing strike at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem has already driven several senior members of both Hadassah Ein Kerem and Hadassah Mount Scopus to quit, fed up over the hospital's inability to compensate for missing wages and frustrated over the tedious negotiations. 

The strike began Tuesday at both Hadassah Ein-Kerem and Hadassah Mount Scopus medical centers, as a backlash against the Finance Ministry for stalling in negotiations to expand the hospital's budget. The budget cuts have been hurting patients, according to the staff, and the staff is reeling after a month on half-pay. As a result, the centers decided to close their doors Tuesday, operating on the schedule normally reserved for Shabbat and holidays. 

"We've closed the gates and are urging people to look elsewhere for anything but urgent medical care," Dr. Arbel-Alon stated. "Everything else has been postponed." 

Following the drastic step, the Knesset decided to hold a hearing about the crisis on Monday, in the Labor, Welfare and Health Committee. Avigdor Kaplan, CEO of the Medical Center, Professor Roni Gamzo, Director of the Ministry of Health, will both attend the hearing.