Thursday December 18, 2014
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18.12.2014
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Hadassah crisis far from resolution as wards remain empty
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Dr. Meir Mizrahi

The future of Israel's medicine is at stake

Everyone keeps asking -- how could this happen to Hadassah Hospital? How did it reach such a deficit? The reason is simple, and that is that Hadassah has a deficit because the entire system has a deficit. The health system as a whole is under budgeted, but the difference is that every year the government hospitals (and clinics) are covered by the government, while Hadassah is not. Hadassah relied on donations to provide public medicine for all of Jerusalem, but donors cannot keep closing the gaps, and the government should see to having proper medical care provided for every resident of Jerusalem.

But let's talk about the future. Of course Hadassah must be saved, but the question is what it will it look like? Will it look like a hot dog factory, streamlined, no added value? Or a center for excellence, research and education at the highest level? Everything has a price, the question is just when it will be paid. We young doctors (residents, interns and fellows) represent the majority of Hadassah's staff, and get a salary based on collective agreements. If at the end of the current negotiations, our salaries get cut below what is required by the collective agreement, Hadassah Hospital will quickly be left with no future generation of doctors.

What will the capital of Israel look like without a fully functional trauma unit of the highest order? How will Jerusalem's demographics change if Hadassah slims down and the majority of its doctors leave and no one replaces them?

If Hadassah cuts its academic positions for doctors, research will be a thing of the past and no one will continue it. If Hadassah freezes its academic development and ranking in the Israeli Medical Association as the hospital's administration seeks to do, no one will want to advance their careers at Hadassah. It is a place of academia, research and development. The close connection with the medicine faculty at Hebrew University and the cooperation with them bear exemplary results. These advances will vanish if the scientific foundation for them is taken away.

During the 2011 doctor protests, the Finance Ministry promised 1,000 new positions for residents -- a deal that evaporated the moment it was signed. Now, along with the aforementioned deficit in positions, the administration wants to cut even more positions for young doctors. The patients are going to be hurt by this first and foremost; they will get superficial and subpar treatment as a result of treatment by exhausted doctors that are not compensated for their work. It will be a fatal blow to clinics and quality of care, and that is before considering the damage done to the teaching at Hadassah, which has more teachers than any other place. Who will guide the 180 medical students? We are forging the next generation of doctors, the next leaders of medicine in Israel.

Us young doctors, ostensibly have the least to lose. We can go elsewhere with little difficulty. And that is the biggest danger with the current outlook at the Health and Finance ministries. They are short sighted, and we are definitely the cheapest option for a budget cut, but Israel will end up paying a much heavier price.

Dr. Meir Mizrahi is a doctor of internal medicine and gastroenterology and chairman of the Junior Doctors Committee at Hadassah Hospital.

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