Health Minister Rabbi Yaalov Litzman has appointed former Health Ministry Director-General Professor Roni Gamzu to supervise coronavirus-fighting efforts at senior citizen facilities in Israel, after infections that broke out at several facilities took the lives of significant numbers of residents. “Based on the idea that senior citizens need clear instructions and direction, we have decided to increase our efforts regarding this specific sector. Professor Gamzu has the experience and capabilities to carry this mission out, and I am sure he will ensure that the best care is provided to this group.”
More than 30 residents of senior facilities have died from the coronavirus, with the largest number at the Mishaan senior living facility in Beersheva, where 13 have passed away. Another nine died in the senior facility in the town of Yavne’el, and several others who have died were residents of facilities in Yerushalayim, Bnei Brak and Rehovot.
The appointment comes after heads of 23 senior facilities and nursing homes filed a petition with the High Court demanding that the government immediately test all residents and staff of the facilities for coronavirus infections, including those who have no symptoms. The petition states that residents and staff “have a right to life and health, and it is up to the state to guarantee these rights.”
Gamzu said after his appointment that “Israel is dealing with this plague better than many developed countries, and that includes in senior facilities. The immediate challenge is to preserve the health of our parents, the builders of the country. After helping Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv to successfully deal with coronavirus infections, I have accepted the challenge to lead the national effort in this area. I understand quite well the challenges and difficulties in situations involving geriatric patients and staff, and with the cooperation of all offices and ministries, we will be able to bring about immediate positive results and save lives.”