Israeli Hospitals In Crisis: “Only 19 New Hospital Beds Since Pandemic Began”

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein on tour of Rambam Hospital in Haifa.

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Israel has increased its capacity by only 19 beds in hospitals since the pandemic began, from 16,302 beds in February to 16,321 beds in July, according to a report by the Knesset Research and Information Center (RIC).

According to the report, presented to the Knesset’s Special Committee for Public Petitions on Monday, additional beds from internal medicine wards were designated for coronavirus patients rather than increasing beds in general.

There are currently 783 coronavirus patients hospitalized in Israel and three hospitals, Shaare Tzedek and Hadassah in Jerusalem, and Ichilov in Tel Aviv, are currently operating at over 100% capacity in their coronavirus wards and two others are at 94%.

Hadassah and Ichilov are also operating at over 100% capacity in their general wards and Shaare Tzedek is operating at 90%.

Director-General of Shaarei Tzedek Hospital Prof. Ofer Merin said during the meeting: “The internal wards are full, we have no staff. Yesterday we canceled surgeries and sent patients home because the ICU is full. It’s a shame and disgrace. The wards are completely full, and we were forced to divert medical teams from the internal medicine departments to the coronavirus wards.”

“I have to pay salaries and have no money because we are not operating as we should,” Merin continued. “Not because we aren’t being run properly but because all the hospitals are in the red. We can’t survive. Instead of dealing with the coronavirus, we’re busy with paying bills.”

Zeev Rothstein, CEO of the Hadassah Medical Center spoke about a similar situation at Hadassah. “The Health Ministry added only enough medical staff positions to staff one department, less than half the staff needed. I hope we don’t reach a crisis point but if we would be required to staff two coronavirus wards we wouldn’t be able to with the existing staff.”

“The economic damage to the hospital is estimated at more than NIS 200 million, partly due to the closure of medical tourism. The health and finance ministries should understand that if we don’t receive NIS 60 million to pay August salaries, our suppliers and employees will leave.”

The Health Ministry’s head of nursing, Dr. Shoshi Goldberg said that she currently has 1,500 nurses who have been trained and are ready to start working in hospitals and will have another 2,600 by the end of the month. However, due to a lack of funding, the nurses have not received sufficient training to care for coronavirus patients and staff the ICU,” she said.

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)