There is a growing animosity between Deputy Minister of Health Yaakov Litzman and the organization representing Israel’s hospital directors. At present, 11 hospital directors are taking the deputy minister to task, demanding he withdraw objections to the plan to fortify Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon and permit the project to move forward.
Representing the directors’ forum, Prof. Yaakov Hert explained to the media that he and his colleagues are concerned that Barzilai still lacks an emergency room capable of providing the region with care under wartime conditions as was the case when missiles were fired into the area from Gaza during Operation Cast Lead, in 2008-2009.
The controversy stems from the ruling of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, permitting the exhuming of bodies to permit construction on the site planned, but Gedolei Yisrael Shlita have stated otherwise, resulting in Litzman’s refusal to approve the plan.
Litzman explains that if there was no alternative to such a move, exhuming bodies would be permitted but in the case of Barzilai, an alternative solution does indeed exist. Litzman has designated an area, a parking lot, as the new fortified emergency room but Hert and his colleagues explain the 200 meter (yard) distance from unit beds makes such a move contraindicated, increasingly complex, and it will result in costly delays since it carries a price tag of an additional NIS 150 million, a reality that will take years to overcome from a budgetary perspective.
Hert also warns that Litzman plans to find the NIS 150 million from hospital budgets, rejecting any such move, explaining the nation’s healthcare system is already on the verge of collapse and there simply is no room to take and funds from the ailing system.
The state on Tuesday afternoon is expected to respond to the Supreme Court. It was given 60 days to respond as to why it is not moving ahead with the fortified emergency room at the original cemetery site which enjoys the approval and backing of the nation’s chief rabbis.
(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)