While Hadassah Medical Organization's nurses are fighting for their future and livelihoods, other hospitals are wooing them to come work for them.
Health Ministry Director-General Professor Roni Gamzo issued an unequivocal warning to the nation's hospitals on Thursday, saying that hiring nurses away from Hadassah might very well bring about the medical center's collapse. So far, 14 of surgical nurses from Hadassah's Ein Karem and Mount Scopus campuses, announced they were leaving.
Surgical nurses are especially sought after since hospitals' operating rooms' hectic schedule often creates a bottleneck in hospital activities. A shortage in nurses prevents the hospital from fully utilizing its surgical ward, which is considered profitable for a medical center.
"The suggestions I have been hearing are ringing in my ears," Hadassah Nurses' Committee Chairwoman Tsila Gera said. "A nurse at Ichilov [the Sourasky Medical Center in Tel Aviv] was offered a 40,000 shekel ($11,400) signing bonus to transfer to another hospital. He was offered additional rank, while I can't even get 10 extra vacation days here. How would he not want to go someplace else?"
"As of right now, two nurses are asking to transfer to Ichilov, 10 nurses have already left and four have asked to resign," Shuli Brosh, a nurse in charge of the medical center's surgical ward, said. "We are already understaffed and now Hadassah's financial state has created a catalyst. We all want to get back to work quickly and have financial security."
Precisely at this time of crisis, Jerusalem's Shaare Zedek Medical Center has published listings for surgical and labor and delivery nurses. The hospital, however, has stated that "in these times, so that the crisis won't escalate, we are not taking nurses from Hadassah."
Hadassah has been operating on a reduced schedule for over a week. Orna Godovitch, a nurse in the Neurosurgery Department, fed an Eritrean patient with a head injury. "I don't need to do that, according to the strike, but this is a patient who has no family. This patient could die if someone is not by his side," she said.
Menashe, who has diabetes and had surgery on his leg Tuesday, and is one of the patients affected by the strike. He said he had waited two weeks for an operation on an infected finger, but because the operation had been repeatedly delayed, the infection had spread and in the end all his fingers had required amputation.
"Whoever doesn't have money, doesn't get a surgery," his daughter Ester said.
Ori Papiz, whose mother is hospitalized at Hadassah, said, "This is already the third day she is waiting for an X-ray. I think she hasn't been bathed in two days, but what is more disturbing is that while waiting her foot has swollen right up. I'm scared her condition will deteriorate. It is a disgrace that a hospital with so much profit and private medical services reaches this situation."