Coronavirus ward (illustrative)
Coronavirus ward (illustrative)Nati Shohat/Flash90

Following an exposé earlier this week in the Yisrael Hayom newspaper, detailing harsh allegations raised regarding treatment of patients at Wolfson Hospital in Holon by the very doctors working there, several relatives of patients who died at Wolfson Hospital in the last few weeks have come forward with stories of horror and tragedy.

On Monday of this week, nine doctors from Wolfson’s internal medicine department went public with accusations of severe neglect and medical malpractice, leading in many cases to unnecessary deaths, they allege. Now Yisrael Hayom has published accounts from three families whose loved ones passed away in Wolfson Hospital, confirming the doctors’ allegations

Albert Amsalem, a 79-year-old man from Rishon Letzion, passed away last Thursday in Wolfson’s internal medicine ward, to which he had been transferred two days previously. Amsalem had diabetes and kidney trouble, and needed constant nursing care. According to his family, “he contracted the coronavirus while he was in hospital,” and was taken to the coronavirus ward.

Galit Feld, Amsalem’s daughter, related: “While he was still in a regular ward, before he contracted the coronavirus, my three siblings and I would bring him food every day and try to feed him. It was hard for him to eat, and he would often refuse. When he was admitted to the coronavirus ward, we asked the nursing staff there to keep an eye on him to make sure he was eating, and we warned them that he wouldn’t eat otherwise. We would call them up on the telephone several times a day to ask after him.

“For several weeks they wouldn’t let us see him at all. But then, a week ago, they told us that he had recovered from the coronavirus, and they transferred him back to internal medicine. When he left the coronavirus ward, he was in a terrible state – emaciated, looking like someone who had been sentenced to forced labor.” Amsalem died two days later.

Chana Levy, an 80-year-old woman from Tel Aviv, was hospitalized in Wolfson’s coronavirus department at the beginning of October and passed away on the 17th of the month. Her daughter Alona Asraf related: “From the very beginning of her stay in hospital in the coronavirus department, she complained that the staff didn’t come anywhere near her. She told me how she would call out for hours for assistance, and no one paid any attention to her, even though all she was asking for was something to eat or drink.

“She also complained that she was forced to attend to her needs in bed – when she asked the nurse for permission to go to the bathroom, she was told, ‘go in your pants.’ And then for hours they didn’t change her.”

Asraf then related the pressure she experienced from hospital staff to withhold treatment from her mother: “The doctor told me that my mother had been resuscitated in the middle of the night, and he asked me if she should be resuscitated if it happened again, because she was likely to remain in a vegetative state even if they succeeded in reviving her. And he kept on and on at me about this. Finally, on Thursday night, I insisted on gaining entry to the ward and I went in to see her. They let me in while she was being resuscitated, but it was clear to me that she had already died. She was utterly neglected while in hospital, to a horrifying extent.”

Yosef Bracha was a 65-year-old man from Bat Yam, who, according to his relatives, contracted the coronavirus in synagogue. His son Shai noted that after his first hospital admission, he was discharged and returned home, and was later readmitted only to pass away on the day before Rosh Hashanah.

According to his son, it’s impossible to know what really happened to his father in hospital, because the hospital staff would not allow the family to enter the coronavirus ward – but serious doubts remain. “What was clear, however, was that there weren’t enough doctors on duty either in the evenings or at nights, and during these times it was impossible to get answers or information from anyone on the staff. When we did finally get some answers, they were delivered in a cold, impersonal manner. To this day, we have received no information or explanations from the staff in the department about my father’s treatment in the last days of his life, and we are now demanding to find out what exactly goes on in Wolfson’s coronavirus department.”