'Red tape is exausting' (Illustration)
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'Treasury waiting for survivors to die'

Mental health professionals slam State for delaying therapy funding for Holocaust victims. 'Bureaucracy is hurting survivors,' one official says

"Sometimes I get the feeling that the Finance Ministry is waiting for them to die so it can save money," an official dealing with Holocaust survivors told Ynet on Wednesday.


A group of professionals charged with treating over 3,000 survivors has slammed the State for putting the elderly Holocaust victims through endless red tape when applying for mental health services.


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Masha Yaron, 88, has survived a stay at the Kovno Ghetto in Lithuania, where she was forced to do hard labor by the Waffen-SS. Her father and brother were murdered by the Nazis. She suffers from dementia and neurotic disorders, diagnoses that prompted the Finance Ministry's Holocaust Survivors Rights Authority to recognize her as 50% disabled. And yet, she has been denied State-funded therapy.


Daniel Yaron, her son, told Ynet he has been pleading with the authority to provide his mother with a musical therapist for nearly a year, but to no avail. Despite submitting all the necessary documentation, including referrals from two senior specialists, his applications have been denied.


"From their point of view, an Alzheimer's patient doesn’t need musical therapy, but for her, these are the only hours of happiness," he said.


Moreover, a request Yaron had filed two months ago for a treatment at a geriatric psychiatry center have gone unanswered.


"Some of the survivors don't have the ability to deal with the process. The bureaucracy has been exhausting. This appears to be their system – I have sent countless letters and had to wait months for a reply," he exclaimed, noting that many of the survivors do not have the family to help with the paperwork.


Therapy approved after patients' death

Social workers and psychologists have leveled criticism at the system, citing innumerable cases over the past two years in which the Holocaust Survivors Rights Authority has delayed or denied therapy to eligible recipients.


"Things have changed in recent years," one official said. "The Treasury has decided to regulate and monitor the therapy expenses. The intention might be good, but it has generated more bureaucracy that hurts the survivors."


In some cases, applicants received approval after they had died. In others, applications were rejected due to the fact that the survivors suffer from dementia. Moreover, survivors are now deemed ineligible for couple's therapy. On many occasions, the professionals must stop treatment midway until approval is renewed.


"In the past, it was understood that Holocaust survivors' therapy is permanent, since the survivor requires it for the rest of his life and it cannot be limited in time," another social worker said. "Now, the approval must be renewed every few months.


"The survivors depend on the treatment. They suffer from chronic posttraumatic stress disorder, with symptoms of depression, nightmares and flashbacks. Some cannot sleep at night. The symptoms worsen at old age. For elderly survivors, these treatments are critical."


The Holocaust Survivors Rights Authority approves therapy for 18,000 Holocaust victims each year. The treatments are primarily provided by foundations like Amcha and Elah foundations, which specialize in the field. According to the Finance Ministry, the program has an annual budget of NIS 20 million ($5.3 million).


The ministry denied the officials' charges, saying that "Approval for treatments is given by the authority immediately, without delay."




פרסום ראשון: 04.18.12, 13:21
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