Hadassah Protest March Heads toward Finance Office
The Center's two hospitals in Ein Kerem and Har Hatzofim (Mount Scopus) have been on strike since last Tuesday, only providing emergency care, over a budget crisis that has the Center in a deficit of more than a billion shekels ($286 million). Many doctors have already left Hadassah over the crisis.
Workers only received the second half of their January salary on Sunday at midnight, and accuse the Finance Ministry of dragging its heels in circuitous negotiations that have yet to save the Medical Center.
"Hadassah workers are the heart of the leading hospitals in Israel and in the world," said Avi Nissenkorn, Chairman of the Histradrut's Professional Union. "It's unacceptable to terrorize the workers because of the management's failure."
Nissenkorn called for the immediate ending of "threats of freezes, which find expression in partial salary payments, and stoppages in the allocation of funds to pensions and to funds for continuing education."
"We'll return to proper negotiations and help heal Hadassah only after the full payment of workers' salaries," emphasized Nissenkorn.
'Save Hadassah, save Jerusalem'
On Sunday, a conference for identification with the workers was held at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital, at the initiative of Shas Chairman MK Aryeh Deri. The event was attended by several MKs, mayors and regional council heads.
Speaking at the conference, Deri emphasized the need to quickly solve the hospitals' problems in order to prevent greater damage to Jerusalem.
"We need to solve this crisis," argued Deri. "What do they want? That we be left without hospitals? That now everything will be in Tel Aviv and we'll lag behind them? I want all the senior doctors, the good nurses and workers to work with dedication in Jerusalem."
MK Reuven Rivlin (Likud Beytenu), a native of Jerusalem, noted on the hospital crisis in context of the peace talks that have included proposals of an Arab capital in Jerusalem.
"Alongside the important struggle for the wholeness of Jerusalem, we have to make sure we strengthen Jerusalem so that residents will be able to continue living here," argued Rivlin.
MK Chetboun spoke three hours after his new-born daughter was released from Hadassah
For other participants of the conference, the struggle had a more personal dimension. Deputy Knesset Chairman Yoni Chetboun's wife was released from Hadassah hospital a mere three hours before the conference, after giving birth to a daughter.
Given this personal connection, Chetboun (Jewish Home) stated "I call on the prime minister to reach into the public funds and save Hadassah. The war of accusations is dangerous and irrelevant; there are a million and a half residents who need medical services."
"We can't let Hadassah collapse, and more so we can't abandon the doctors," remarked Chetboun. "The time has come to stop this crazy saga, which reeks of ungratefulness towards the nation's best sons and daughters."
Chetboun added "as the son of a doctor, I know how hard this holy work is. An abandonment of the Hadassah doctors would be a disgrace and will be regretted in the generations to come."