Are residents of Arab
neighborhood expected to go without medical care due to their place of residence? Natali Seculife, a medical and emergency services company refused to send a physician for a house-call in Beit Safafa,
a resident of Jerusalem's
Arab neighborhood said.
A call center representative told the resident that a company doctor will not visit an "Arab area."
The incident occurred a week ago, when Sonia Alias, a resident of Beit Safafa, called the service and asked for a house-call for her feverish husband.
The Natali call-center's representative took Alias' credit card information and told her a doctor will arrive shortly.
Beit Safafa. An incident or a phenomenon? (Photo: Atta Awisat)
After 30 minutes Alias was called by an Arabic speaking representative and asked for an exact address.
According to her, after receiving the address he said: "I'll tell you the truth. The doctor here will not agree to go to an Arab area."
She said the representative suggested she drive her husband to receive the needed care.
"I explained that this isn't a dangerous neighborhood, I told him that I'll meet them and take them to my home.
"He suggested I take my husband to a nearby doctor but I explained that he's feverish, very weak and can't stand on his feet. He said that they'll check and get back to me."
The representative called Alias after an hour and then claimed the doctor has a lot of patients and the wait for the house-call will be longer than three hours.
The couple did not give up. "I told the representative that I'm willing to wait," Alias said. "I said I really want him to come, but the call ended and I didn't hear back from them until the following morning."
Waiting, she was distressed: "I was afraid my husband had swine flu
and I was helpless. It's a man's life. Just because we live in an Arab neighborhood he doesn't deserve care? He deserves to die? I called for a doctor, not a car-towing service. This is contempt for human life. It was hurtful, insulting and jarring."
The next day Alias received a call from a representative. According to her, "she said that she's very sorry a doctor wasn't sent and asked if I'm still interested in a house-call.
"It drove me mad; I scolded her and gave up the service."
Natali clarified it was a one-time incident: "An inquiry revealed that the representative who took care of Mrs. Alias' call was operating on his own initiative and not according to the company's guidelines.
"We'll study the incident and draw the necessary conclusions."
It was further stated: "The company provides medical service to hundreds of thousands of clients equally, regardless of religion, race or gender, and is one of the only companies which provides this service to the Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem."
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