Rabbi Litzman: Hadassah Doctors ‘Acting Over Issues of Ego’

Health Minister Rabbi Yaakov Litzman. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

In the wake of this week’s revelations about the machinations behind the mass resignations of staff from the pediatric hematology-oncology unit of Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital, Health Minister Rabbi Yaakov Litzman said that it appeared that what the resigning doctors really wanted “is the head of [hospital director Zeev] Rotstein, and I am not going to give it to them. If Rotstein falls, Hadassah falls. The Hadassah Ein Kerem staff is acting over motivations of ego,” he said in an interview on Army Radio. “Taking children from the hospital and treating them in a public park is not ‘providing better care for them,’ as they claim,” Minister Rabbi Litzman said, referring to a protest tent that staff has set up at Sacher Park in Yerushalayim, calling it a “cancer field hospital.”

The emerging scandal revolves around what appears to be an attempt by the director of the Hadassah department, Dr. Michael Weintraub, to move his staff en masse across town to Shaare Tzedek Hospital, where a new hematology-oncology unit would be established, presumably offering the doctors, nurses and social workers better conditions. Channel Two revealed Tuesday night the background to the resignation of the members of Hadassah Ein Kerem’s childhood oncology staff in March, which took effect early in June. According to the report, the resignations were engineered by Weintraub, who sought to bring the staff over to Shaare Tzedek, which had expressed interest in opening a similar unit.

If this was the motivation of the doctors and of Shaare Tzedek, both parties could forget about it, Minister Rabbi Litzman said. “Opening a department like that is not like opening another mere clinic. This requires expertise and preparation. And there is no need for an additional such unit” in Yerushalayim. If asked, he would not approve the opening of such a department, Minister Rabbi Litzman said. “They can’t open such a department without a license, and if they do we will impose sanctions” on Shaare Tzedek. “Hospitals and department directors cannot do whatever they want; otherwise any hospital can do whatever they want.”

According to a report on Channel Two, and email messages published by Yediot Achronot, Weintraub was in constant contact with Shaare Tzedek Director Professor Yonatan Halevy for months before the resignation of the Hadassah Ein Kerem staff was announced. In a statement Wednesday, Shaare Tzedek denied coordinating anything with Weintraub. Professor Yonatan Halevy, with whom Weintraub had been in contact, “announced months ago that Shaare Tzedek would not proceed with setting up a pediatric hematology-oncology unit until the current crisis was resolved. All of his involvement in this matter has been to try and resolve the crisis.”

Speaking to Army Radio Thursday, Halevy said that the situation had changed, and that his main concern was to ensure that children suffering from cancer were taken care of. “Seventeen percent of the small number of hematology-oncology staff are sitting around in a protest tent” in Yerushalayim’s Sacher Park, where the Hadassah Ein Kerem staff has gone since their resignations went into effect early in June. “Now do I have the right to try and get them to go back to work?”