Shaare Zedek Medical Center Director Prof. Ofer Marin
Shaare Zedek Medical Center Director Prof. Ofer MarinHezki Baruch

Seven directors of public hospitals held a press conference and a protest demonstration in front of the Ministry of Finance in Jerusalem, claiming the Ministry was giving preferential treatment to the state-owned hospitals instead of them.

The directors of Hadassah, Shaare Zedek, Laniado, Maayan Hayeshua, and the English, French and Holy Family hospitals of Nazareth, said they were on the verge of economic collapse and demanded that the Treasury take steps to prevent the patients coming to harm. Laniado Hospital CEO Nadav Chen said "Public hospitals have been starving and deprived for many years. The health system sees us as a stepson of the system, able to be starved, silenced, and swept under the rug. We have made progress despite them, but the current crisis has left us with no resort."

''The Ministry of Finance promised to give us equal funding but did not keep its promises. We want equal budgeting and grants. We enlisted in the war against COVID-19, purchased equipment and medicine, and at the height of the third wave we have no way to pay our suppliers. Our emergency reserves have dropped well below their critical thresholds."

Chen announced that "If there is no change, next Wednesday we will be at the end of our resources. We will cancel any non-critical procedures and concentrate only on saving lives, working on emergency contingency only. Residents of Jerusalem, Netanya, Nazareth and Bnei Brak are entitled to have their hospitals receive the same budgets of Tel Aviv, Haifa and Beer Sheva. "

Shaare Zedek Medical Center Director Prof. Ofer Marin commented: "We are fighting hard. I never thought I would have to talk about money and resources. Instead of treating patients, we are here at the Ministry of Finance begging for money. We made it through 2020 by the skin of our teeth, but we will not even make it past January of 2021."

'' This inconceivable situation will be brought to an end one way or another. On Sunday we will erect a tent here for a protest encampment and not move until we receive resources to provide the same care to our patients. The Ministry of Finance is apathetic to the needs of both medical staff and patients. If the situation does not change, as of next Wednesday, our hospital beds will stand empty of any but the most critical of cases."

Hadassah CEO Prof. Zeev Rothstein said: "We reached a threshold that we have not even seen in some time, and left it behind a while ago. How can it be that the State of Israel is effectively at war, and the soldiers at the front, our medical teams, are being sent into battle empty-handed. We will be unable to pay them at the end of the month. This situation was not foreseen; even now it seems like a bad dream. Hadassah is flooded with patients, as of this morning it is treating 140 patients for COVID-19. I have no way to pay my employees and do not want to be a manager who cannot pay his workers. This saga must end. We are not looking for medals or prizes, but to do our job. I call on the Ministries of Finance and Health not to let us go bankrupt. They have the resources to do it." Rothstein added.

The director of the Holy Family Hospital in Nazareth, Dr. Ibrahim Harbji said: 'We have no more income. Pharmacy orders are suffocating us and the Ministry of Finance is not helping. It is impossible to wage war without ammunition. The Prime Minister, the Ministers of Finance and Health - help us. We have nothing left to give."

The director of the English Hospital in Nazareth, Prof. Fahed Hakim: "The word 'shame' isn't enough to express what is happening here. Shame on the Minister of Finance for abandoning us. I am ashamed to be the director of a hospital in Israel today. I have no way to pay my antibiotic suppliers. Everyone is aware of the situation, agrees with us, but you do nothing. We just demand equality. To Minister of Finance Israel Katz, I say that you, sir, stand at a historic crossroads. You may either be a signatory to the demise of seven hospitals, or you may rescue them. Mr. Finance Minister, we are not bluffing. We cannot pay our workers or our suppliers, and by extension, we cannot treat patients either."