A woman doctor and ten medical staff members at the Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv have recently contracted the tuberculosis virus, hospital officials told IDF Radio. The staff members are carriers of the disease, but have not actually become sick; their lives are not in danger and there is no immediate threat to their health.
The 11 staff members who are suffering from the virus have begun receiving treatment and the hospital is clarifying that there is no danger that they are contagious to other people through contact or by being in close proximity to them.
It appears that the staff members contracted the virus from African patients, before new procedures were instituted requiring every illegal alien, usually Africans, entering the hospital to be tested for tuberculosis.
In July a Health Ministry committee decided to examine Ichilov’s procedures for treatment of illegal aliens. The decision came about after Ichilov had opted to establish separate wards for illegal aliens, to ban visitors in rooms where illegal aliens are staying, and to declare that they must all undergo testing for tuberculosis.
Officials in the ministry expressed anger at the hospital’s decision and indicated that the policy should be changed.
“A situation should not exist where a hospital will segregate patients based on skin color; many immigrants have been immunized and they have the status of Israeli residents. We must assess the ramifications (of this procedure),” officials stated.
Various aid organizations also protested the new procedures. The Hotline for Migrant Workers (HMW) sent a letter to the hospital’s director, Professor Gabi Barbash, asking to change the procedures. In a letter written by attorney Assaf Weitzen on behalf of the center, he claimed that the hospital’s director was instituting procedures contrary to the patients’ rights laws.