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Dec 27, 2010

The Demise Of Bikur Cholim Hospital

What could possibly be considered a landmark in Yerushalayim, perhaps not the building necessarily but the institution, Bikur Cholim Hospital looks like it is going to be shut down.

Bikur Cholim has been having serious financial difficulties for many years, and is finally going to have to close its doors. No new funding has come in, so that's it. The government decided they were not going to throw any more good money after bad, and no new private money has been located, so that's it.

It really is a shame, as Bikur Cholim is the only hospital, small as it may be, serving downtown Jerusalem. granted, Jerusalem is not such a big city, and other hospitals are not that far away, but in a city that has often been racked by terror, having a hospital in the downtown area has been very useful, unfortunately, in the past.

Besides for its usefulness in its location, Bikur Cholim is the oldest hospital in Jerusalem, and really in all of Israel. It first opened its doors in the Old City in 1826, and moved to its current location in 1925. Bikur Cholim was the project of many gedolim and rabbonim of Yerushalayim through many many years. Just because of its history it is a shame it has to close.

Unfortunately, that is the way of the world. It is no longer profitable, and thats the way it is.

After many attempts to find ways to keep it open, Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman said that nothing has worked out and Bikur Cholim is going to close. They can no longer keep it open.

After the announcement, the members of the Badat"z have written letters to people of influence (including Members of Knesset) urging them to find ways to keep it open, stressing how important it is to be open and provide its services to the area.

I wonder why they themselves did not try to take it over and find funding. It really is their "baby", as the majority of its patients are from the Geula and Mea Shearim areas. Obviously it is not exclusive, and it serves residents from all over Jerusalem (Jews and Arabs alike), but it really is identified as a stronghold of the Eida and Mea Shearim.

That being the case, I am surprised they did not take it over. they could have gone fundraising for it just like they do for all their other institutions. Satmar is very well known for their chessed in the medical field in America, and they could have been recruited to help find funding for the hospital.

It is a shame it has to close, and I am surprised the Eida did not try to  take it over, but only urged other people to try to save it.. I don't blame them, as it was not their responsibility, just am surprised it did not happen.

8 comments:

  1. Bikur Cholim is not the only hospital to serve "downtown" Jerusalem. Most of the patients from "downtown" Jerusalem go to the big 3 - Hadassah Ein Kerem, Hadassah Har Hatzofim or Shaarei Zedek.

    The demise of Bikur Cholim is to be expected, as nowadays, in order to offer quality service, hospitals need to be a certain size. It does not pay to buy a CT machine if you will only use it on 3 patients per week, and I can bring a lot more examples of the sort.

    Bikur Cholim was nice while it lasted - now the OB/GYN department should be taken over by one of the other hospitals, and the rest of the hospital should be sold for the value of its property. Running BC "as is" wastes all of our money and is not fiscally responsible. If the hospital remains open that will be simply because the "askanim" simply got money from the govt. to artificially keep the place alive until it expires in a few more years.

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  2. It is always good to show gratitude. As a brand new (as in just a few days) oleh in '76, I broke my ankle. I had no health insurance due to a misunderstanding (or maybe miscommunication by the aliyah shaliah? Naw...), and the folks at Bikur Holim took care of me kindly and I left there with a cast on my leg.

    More than ten years later I had diagnostic tests and surgery in that hospital. It was pretty old fashioned and make-do in layout, but they took good care of me.

    I am very grateful for all that, and all that they did for the city. I'm sorry to see it go.

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  3. Hold it, hold it! It ain't going yet!
    http://www.local.co.il/jerusalem/78680/article.htm

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  4. I completely disagree with the idea that Bikur Holim hospital "has" to close, as if nothing sensible can be done to save it.

    For, in national terms, peanuts, the hospital can continue to provide excellent services to the poputions of the entire city, particularly the residents of the city center. The problem is that unlike the other hospitals, which get tremendous amounts of public funds (justifiedly), BH gets nothing. For a pittance, the hospital could easily be saved.

    Bikur Holim doesn't buy expensive equipment is hardly uses, as was
    indicated by Anonymous, and its 200bed size (not much smaller than Har Hatzofim, one of the "big 3") is sufficient to justify its continued operation.

    Anonymous' economic analysis is completely off the mark; money granted to BH would be making excellent use of public funds to the great benefit
    of Jerusalem's population.

    Hospitals are by definition money-losing institutions; if a criterion for a general hospital is that it's economically self-sufficient, there wouldn't be any hospitals at all. Closing Hadassah and Shaarei Zedek would save *plenty* of public funds; is that where we should be going?

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  5. I completely disagree with the idea that Bikur Holim hospital "has" to close, as if nothing sensible can be done to save it.

    For, in national terms, peanuts, the hospital can continue to provide excellent services to the poputions of the entire city, particularly the residents of the city center. The problem is that unlike the other hospitals, which get tremendous amounts of public funds (justifiedly), BH gets nothing. For a pittance, the hospital could easily be saved.

    Bikur Holim doesn't buy expensive equipment is hardly uses, as was
    indicated by Anonymous, and its 200bed size (not much smaller than Har Hatzofim, one of the "big 3") is sufficient to justify its continued operation.

    Anonymous' economic analysis is completely off the mark; money granted to BH would be making excellent use of public funds to the great benefit
    of Jerusalem's population.

    Hospitals are by definition money-losing institutions; if a criterion for a general hospital is that it's economically self-sufficient, there wouldn't be any hospitals at all. Closing Hadassah and Shaarei Zedek would save *plenty* of public funds; is that where we should be going?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Anon from the 1st commentDecember 28, 2010 9:10 PM

    Shaul:

    As much as you want to pour money into the BH drain, the main problem is this: the residents of J-m don't want to go there.

    The hospital is empty.

    OK, maybe only 50%-70% of the beds are empty (not including obgyn). Compare that to the other hospitals which have a 90% + occupancy rate - that is the reason BH needs to close.

    The govt. can't force people to go to BH, and people are simply not going there. Don't take my word for it - just go into the BH ER and then go to the ER of other hospitals. BH is quiet - lots of empty beds lined up, and the other hospitals are usually a zoo due to the massive number of people who go there.

    I know doctors who have been offered quality jobs at BH - they simply won't take the jobs. Many of the doctors there leave and go elsewhere (ie SZ and Hadassah). For example, Prof. Andre Keren who was the head of the cardiology dept 10 years ago - now he is at Hadassah. Dr. Medianh - one of the senior cardiologists - recently left and went to SZ. At the end of the day, the absolute best doctors in J-m are not at BH, and that is why people go elsewhere for medical care.

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  7. Doctors move around all the time. The departing doctors Anonymous mentioned are indeed excellent; OTOH the new head of the cardiology department, Prof. A. Kaspi, is one of Israel's top cardiologists, an expert with an international reputation. Closing the hospital because a top guy left, and was quickly replaced by another top guy, doesn't sound like such a good idea to me.
    If anything, the excellence of the cardiology department, particulalrly, but not exclusively, in angioplasty, is one of the best reasons to keep it running.

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  8. Shaul:

    I can't debate the expertise of Pro. Kaspi - I am sure he is wonderful. All I know is that when I speak to doctors about BH (and I do, as I am in the medical field), very few people are willing to step foot into there - it is a sinking ship.

    You can't keep a hospital open because they have one (or two) good departments.

    There are not enough ill people at BH - that is why it should close, not due to lack of professionalism. I am sure that the doctors who are there are just fine - but the patients obviously disagree, as the hospital is not nearly full enough.

    ReplyDelete

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