I write this as a resident of Jerusalem.
I write this as a two-time surgical patient at Hadassah – one of the finest hospitals in Israel – who has nothing but good to say about the treatment and care provided by world class surgeons and a trained, caring and over-worked medical staff.
And I write this because I am angry. No, I’m furious: At the “good ladies” of Hadassah WZOA who have engaged in a high-stake poker game with the Israeli government that they will surely lose. A poker game where the “pot” includes the residents of Jerusalem – my family, my friends, my colleagues and my neighbors. A poker game where day in and day out, the ladies of Hadassah are showing a callous disregard for our well-being.
In response to the current crisis, Hadassah provided a fluff piece to the media which said, in part:
We, the members of Hadassah, had a dream. A big dream. We wanted to establish modern medicine in the yishuv as our part in building the modern State of Israel. We set up clinics and hospitals from Metulla to Eilat. With the doctors, nurses and loyal staff from Israel and the Diaspora, we saw this dream come true. This has been and continues to be a partnership between the Jewish people of the Diaspora and in Israel. The billions of dollars and enormous efforts were given with love and with no strings attached. We are proud to be partners in the achievements of Israeli medicine.
One of our major contributions was establishing and supporting the Hadassah Medical Organization (HMO), Israel’s premier academic medical center with its two hospitals Hadassah Ein Kerem and Hadassah Mount Scopus. These hospitals have served the public of Israel, providing leadership in medical care, research and teaching. As a public hospital, our doors are open to all. Graduates of the medical school and physicians and nurses trained at Hadassah have gone forth to the cities and periphery of the country. We have provided the more than million residents of greater Jerusalem and those around the country with hospital care since we opened our first clinic in 1913, and our first Hadassah Hospital in 1918.
Yet, today, on the ground the situation is neither optimistic or clear.
Last week, two of Israel’s largest banks – Bank Leumi and Mizrahi Tefahot Bank – cut off credit lines to the hospital. The hospital subsequently informed the Ministry of Health that suppliers, including those providing medicines, food, fuel, cleaning and security services had cut off services due to the credit lines suspension. The hospital “warned that the entire hospital, other than the emergency room, might have to be shut” this week.
And now, this morning, we learn that shortly before Shabbat, the hospital filed a request for court protection against creditors. While the court trustee, at this time, will not take over the day to day management of the hospital, the trustee does have the authority to recommend transferring the hospital to one of Israel’s four health maintenance organizations and to divest Hadassah WZOA of all or part of its control.
Doctors nationwide staged a two hour strike Sunday in solidarity with their Hadassah colleagues over the pay cut and unilateral court filing. Only emergency cases were handled. And what do we hear from Hadassah’s President Marcie Natan? Only excuses! Ms. Natan forgets that they (Hadassah WZOA) are the owners. As Teddy Roosevelt famously said, the buck stops at her door.
Hadassah WZOA is a tiny shadow of its former self. Not because of Madoff – remember, after the legal settlement Hadassah still had a net gain of tens of millions of dollars on Madoff – but because of gross mismanagement in the U.S. and of Hadassah Medical Organization here in Israel. Hadassah WZOA has sold off or scuttled everything. Everything. Young Judaea and all its camps; their education and any programming; so many of its offices and staff; and its Israel properties – save the hospitals. There’s nothing left. And all to build that new tower at Ein Kerem that they’ll probably never finish. Just like the failed Judaean Youth Hostel – another monument to self-admiration. What a disaster.
There’s no confidence left in Hadassah even among a significant part of their own donors. But between their few aging supporters who will pass away not knowing any better and an endowment of still over half-a-billion dollars, they will probably never go out of business.
Their flagship hospitals may.
Originally published at eJewish Philanthropy.