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Protest about the future of the Pediatric Hemato-Oncology Department
Six senior doctors at Hadassah resign over hospital director's changes
Medical staff at the Pediatric Hemato-Oncology Department argue that Prof. Zeev Rotstein's move to have bone marrow transplants for children performed at the adults' department is fundamentally wrong and would badly affect the quality of care given to the children; Prof. Rotstein claims: 'This is all internal politics.'
Six senior doctors at the Pediatric Hemato-Oncology Department of the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem tended their resignation on Sunday in protest of a decision by the hospital director to perform bone marrow transplants for children at another department for adults.

 

 

The doctors believe the decision is fundamentally wrong and does not allow them to provide patients with the best care. Despite talks between the sides, the doctors and the hospital's administration failed to reach an agreement to resolve the crisis.

 

Officials at the The Pediatric Hemato-Oncology Department explained the decision to resign came as a result of "fundamental professional disagreements" between the department's medical staff and the hospital administration. The medical staff has complained of a serious shortage in manpower, which they say puts the department on the verge of collapse.

 

Protest outside the Health Ministry against the decision to move bone marrow transplants to adults' department.
Protest outside the Health Ministry against the decision to move bone marrow transplants to adults' department.

 

They further claimed hospital director Prof. Zeev Rotstein was trying to minimize costs even at the expense of hurting the quality of care.

 

A month ago, department director Prof. Michael Weintraub and his staff threatened to resign if a solution to the crisis is not found.

 

"This is a difficult and sad moment for me, a moment of real crisis. But in light of the administration's actions, I cannot be held responsible for giving the best care to the children," Prof. Weintraub wrote to his staff.

 

Hadassah Director Prof. Zeev Rotstein (Photo: Yaron Brener)
Hadassah Director Prof. Zeev Rotstein (Photo: Yaron Brener)
 

 

"This department was a beacon in all fields," said Dr. Dan Arbell, a senior surgeon in the Department of Pediatric Surgery, who has been working at the hospital for 35 years. 

 

"Instead of closely protecting this department, we're reading the hospital administration's response to the staff's resignation and are shocked by it," Dr. Arbell added.

 

Parents of some of the children hospitalized and treated at the Pediatric Hemato-Oncology Department were disappointed to hear of the doctors' decision to resign.

 

"My Aviv got sick at age four months and recovered from retinoblastoma (a rare form of eye cancer), got sick again at age 15 and treated by Prof. Weintraub for eight months at the department, which was like a home to us. Today, Aviv is 23 years old," said Sara Esset Pinto, whose son still comes in for periodic checks.

 

"This kind of department is special, and if it falls apart and the staff doesn't stay together, we have no idea what would happen. It keeps me up at night," the mother added.

 

Some parents accepted the decision with understanding. "If they decided they couldn't do this anymore—we're with them," said Hedva Shmueli, whose 11-year-old son Eyal is undergoing treatments in the department.

 

"The earth shook, opened up, and took all stability with it. I'll follow the department director. Wherever he goes, I'm with him," she added. 

 

Some of the concerned parents and their children (Photo: Amit Shabi)
Some of the concerned parents and their children (Photo: Amit Shabi)

   

While the doctors object to uniting the children and adults' oncology departments, hospital director Prof. Zeev Rotstein claims there is no need for two separate departments.

 

"There's a very talented doctor—I'd say verging on genius, perhaps more—who has been performing bone marrow transplants on children in recent years with great success," he told Ynet on Monday. "We identified her as a rising star and promoted her to be the head of the Department of Bone Marrow Transplantation (BMT) and Cancer Immunobiology, one of the most important departments at Hadassah. Perhaps they thought they deserved the promotion and not her."

 

Prof. Rotstein charged that the resignation was part of "internal politics," adding "as far as the professional matter is concerned, I'm confident about the treatment the children are receiving, both at the pediatric department and at the bone marrow transplantation department."

 

He assued parents that Hadassah "will find solution in a way that allows us to look in the mothers' eyes and tell them 'Your child's health will not be affected, we'll do everyone to ensure the treatment continues in the best way, without interruptions.'"

 

The Hadassah doctors' union said in response, "This is a serious failure by the administration and directorate and a painful loss to the patients in the Jerusalem area."

 

The Hadassah Medical Center said in response, "The administration will do all it can to ensure no child is hurt by this collective resignation."

 

The six doctors' resignation will come into effect in the beginning of June.

 

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