HomeMarch 2014Saving a Treasure

Saving a Treasure

“It’s the economy, stupid!” How many times has that phrase come up in the past few years? Usually, it involves some aspect of the American economy, some religious or philanthropic organization suffering from a recession-induced lack of funds or some unfortunate person without the paper or plastic to carry on as if it were, say, 2007.
While some people believe that things have gotten better, the impact of the recession is the “gift that keeps on giving” all over the world. Whether Bernie made off with your funds or not, the ripple effect is still out there. The concept of “there” has a wider swath than one might imagine.
By the time this issue of Orange County Jewish Life is in your hands, I expect to be in the middle of my third trip to Israel, having visited one of the great loves of my life, an institution in the throes of a financial crisis. As part of a four-generation family of Hadassah life members and someone who devotes a great deal of “spare time” to its activities in the Diaspora, I am deeply saddened by the throttling the Hadassah Medical Organization (HMO) has been getting in the media.
This is a health care system with a history of more than 100 years, a medical organization that operates two university hospitals (at Ein Kerem and Mount Scopus in Jerusalem) and schools of medicine, dentistry, nursing and pharmacology affiliated with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Its declared mission is to extend a “hand to all, without regard for race, religion or ethnic origin.”
When you visit the hospitals, you can see people in black hats next to people in turbans or keffiyahs.  They all get treated equally and well, even if their countries are unfriendly to Israel and even when Hadassah has to provide additional security. For those reasons and more, Hadassah was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.
You also see top-notch doctors administering the latest technology. That costs money, and sometimes the needs are overwhelming.
A combination of factors has created a severe financial issue for the Hadassah Medical Organization. While playing the blame game is easy, one thing is clear: this organization must go on. Hopefully, steps will be taken by the Israeli government to make that happen.
Hadassah officials say that no one believes that HMO will have to close its doors and, hopefully, the proposed recovery plan will come to fruition. Meanwhile, workers who have not been paid in full have reduced the hours they work, bringing treatment options to a minimum and sparking angry reactions from the public.
We fervently hope that the Israeli government will help HMO to restructure and provide an infusion of cash into the HMO system and the Israeli health care structure overall. Meanwhile, Hadassah is circulating a petition to the government and hoping for the success of labor negotiations between the union and the hospitals.
As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “Hadassah has healed so many people.  Now we must help Hadassah heal.”


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