Photo Credit: David Cohen/Flash90
Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz visits Ziv Medical Center in Tsfat, August 24, 2021.

Israel’s seven public hospitals—Hadassah, Shaare Zedek, Laniado, Maayan Hayeshua, and the hospitals in Nazareth, on Wednesday morning switched to a Shabbat format, eliminating most activities save for maintaining patients’ healthcare. The director of Shaare Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem, Prof. Ofer Merin, told Reshet Bet radio that “it’s inconceivable that the government is not fulfilling the agreement it signed, and has not transferred a shekel to the public hospitals.”

Prof. Merin said the public hospitals in Israel have no money to buy masks and medical equipment, and the situation there is dismal. “It’s strange that the government does not understand the importance of public hospitals in red cities. Thousands of people are harmed because of their indifference.”

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More than 400 Corona patients have died in Israel since the beginning of August. On Monday, 9,891 tested positive out of 150,657 who were tested (6.56%). As of Wednesday morning, there are 692 Corona patients in critical condition, with 129 on respirators – compared to 678 and 123 respectively on Monday. 16 Corona patients died over the past 24 hours.

Health Ministry Director-General Prof. Nachman Ash told Reshet Bet Wednesday morning that according to estimates when Israel crosses the threshold of three million vaccinated with the third, booster dose, there will be a decrease in the number of Corona patients. Ash said that for the next few days the numbers of Israelis of test positive each day would hover around ten thousand.

“The solution to the outbreak is vaccination,” Prof. Ash reiterated. “We want to reach five million with the third vaccine, but we believe that the effect of a decrease in the number of verified patients will already be achieved after three million are vaccinated—in one week to ten days.”

Ash noted that new restrictions must be imposed to reduce crowds, due to the alarming increase in the number of critical patients. “We don’t want to do it while there are too few who have been vaccinated because it would harm the population. We will decide on the time [for the new sanctions] well in advance so that people can go out and get vaccinated. We will set dates and announce them.”

As to the public hospitals’ slowdown, Prof. Ash expressed hope that the solution to the crisis will be found today, Wednesday. “I hope that today we will release those 300 million shekels ($93 million), in such a way that we can transfer them to the hospitals. There is a matter of locating the sources for this money and I hope it ends today.”

Shaare Zedek director Merin said that from the start, the agreement between the public hospitals and the government, which was signed in January, spurned these hospitals. But even that agreement was not honored.

“From what we promised until July – we received only 70%,” Prof. Merin complained. “From what we were promised since July – we received nothing.”

Prof. Merin also noted that the budget for the seven public hospitals for an entire year is more or less equal to the cost to the state of one day of a lockdown, and added that these hospitals have treated the highest number of Corona patients.

Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz tweeted Wednesday morning: “The independent hospitals are in distress. I am aware of that and taking care. Representatives of the Health Ministry and Finance Ministries have been holding marathon discussions for two days to resolve the crisis. Agreements are required and can be reached by the end of the day. I will not allow this situation to continue and I am sure that the Treasury understands and will act just like me.”

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David writes news at JewishPress.com.