Israeli gov't hospital heads to public: Stay away, medicines are running out : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Israeli gov't hospital heads to public: Stay away, medicines are running out

by Haim Shadmi Courtesy of Ha'aretz Sunday August 26 2001

Health Minister Nissim Dahan and the forum of hospital directors have called on the public to avoid government hospitals from Sunday, except in emergencies, because of a deep financial crisis.

A Health Ministry spokesman said Dahan was scheduled to meet Finance Minister Silvan Shalom in the course of Sunday.

The government hospital directors say the health system's financial state prevents them from providing the public with adequate health services.

Dahan is to explain to Shalom "once again what a difficult plight the health system is in and to inform him that the system has in effect collapsed," the health ministry spokesman.

The hospitals' debts now total NIS 800-900 million, according to the ministry and the hospital directors.

The heads of Wolfson Hospital in Holon announced Sunday that they would not be able to take in patients by Tuesday because of the acute shortage of medicines and equipment.

"We are regressing 40 or 50 years to where we have to operate without washing our hands in special soap and even without gloves," said Bobby Gross, the deputy director of Wolfson. "The gloves have run out and we have reached the last few drops of soap."

Dr. Ya'akov Farbstein, chairman of the forum of directors of government hospitals, said the supply of equipment and medicines in the hospitals had dwindled and had to be kept for cases "such as heart attacks and births," where there was no time to refer the patient to other hospitals.

He said the hospitals had stopped administering non-emergency treatments such as catherizations, except in cases of life and death.

The dialysis units are also short of equipment and the stores of the Sarel company, where the hospitals buy their medicines, "are already empty."

Farbstein said most of the procedures already scheduled were being cancelled, including open-heart surgery and various orthopedic operations.

The director-general of the Finance Ministry, Ohad Marani, accused the government hospitals Sunday of failing to implement efficiency measures.

The hospitals, he said, "have to be managed better. There is a lot of criticism about the lack of efficiency in the [government hospital] system."

Marani said he hoped the immediate shortage crisis would be solved Sunday. "I hope this isn't some drama that is being instigated ahead of the discussion on the [2002] budget," he added.

After hearing Marani's comments, Dahan told Israel Radio that the Finance Ministry was trying to "throw sand in the public's eyes" in order to cover up its own blunders

(c) 2001 Ha'aretz

-- Martin Thompson (, August 26, 2001

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