Head of Epidemiology Dep’t Resigns, Citing Incompetence

YERUSHALAYIM -
Maj. Gen. Ori Gordin, head of the IDF’s Home Front Command, gestures as he speaks at its headquarters, in Ramle, in Aug. Gordin is overseeing the military’s coronavirus “task force,” formed to bring one of the developed world’s worst outbreaks under control. Its main responsibility is taking the lead in contact tracing and breaking chains of infection. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

The head of the epidemiological department in the Health Ministry, Liora Valinsky, submitted her resignation to the head of Public Health Services, Dr. Sharon Alrey-Price on Wednesday.

In her letter, which was obtained by Channel 12 News, Valinsky details the reasons for her resignation and she expresses harsh criticism of the way the government has handled the aspects of the pandemic that were within her jurisdiction.

“The epidemiological department had its authority and duties transferred to the Home Front Command,” she noted, “but unfortunately, they did not dedicate the necessary time to gain an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the department, and also refused to heed the advice of professionals within the Health Ministry when they could have gained from their expertise and experience.

“Overnight, IDF officers suddenly became undisputed experts in epidemiological research, without them having any background knowledge or professional training,” she wrote in her letter. “I tried with all my power to alter certain decisions that, in my opinion, were being made without being properly thought through and without consideration of their consequences. However, I was unsuccessful, as the authority to make such decisions had been transferred in its entirety to someone with no experience in the field of either epidemiology or medical research,” she alleged.

“We are already seeing the results of some of these poorly made decisions,” she added. “The investigations department is not being run in a professional manner and is not seeing success. Thousands of people have been ordered to enter quarantine when they should not have been required to do so, and we have seen unprecedented numbers of people appealing these orders. Worst of all is the confusion that reigns everywhere.

“During the entire period of the epidemic, I invested all I had into dealing with this challenging situation, working day and night, through weekends and chagim – and I never complained even once that the physical and emotional toll was too great. I did everything I could to assist the Home Front Command in its new role, even when I did not agree with its approach,” she added.

“I am leaving my position with a heavy heart,” she concluded, “but even so, I leave behind me a staff of professional nurses who will continue to do their work with dedication. I only hope that the Health Ministry will know how to properly appreciate them.”