Hospital chiefs on Wednesday appealed to the government for more resources since they claim to be more than 1,000 hospital beds short amid the coronavirus pandemic and with weeks before the start of the flu season.
In a strongly worded letter addressed to Health Minister Yuli Edelstein, the chiefs warned they are already short 1,433 beds and critical medical equipment with the coronavirus pandemic compounding a long-existing shortage that is the result of years-long budget deficits.
According to the letter, hospitals require at least 22 additional internal medicine wards, 321 ICU beds and 290 geriatric medicine beds to meet the demand.
The chiefs said they have already appealed to the Director General of the Health Ministry Professor Hezi Levi but received no response.
"The lack of beds must be addressed if we are to respond to the needs of COVID-19 patients during the winter and the temporary staff allocated [for the pandemic] must be kept beyond the new year," the letter said.
In the first wave of the pandemic, Israeli hospitals reached a 120% capacity with only 16,000 beds in total.
Dr. Eithan Wertheimer, director of the Rabin Medical Center in Petach Tikva, said the association of hospital directors told the ministry in October about how best to prepare for a winter surge in hospitalizations.
"Non-COVID patients were subjected to over-crowded wards and a shortage of ICU beds, while some elective procedures were suspended during the second wave of the virus," Wertheimer said. "Since the pandemic is not going to end soon, we must adjust to the needs for the benefit of all patients."
There also appears of be a shortage of flu vaccines, with only 1.4 million dosesdavailable out of the 4.2 million needed.
The Health Ministry said a large amount of vaccines was due to arrive within the next 10 days.
In anticipation of shortages, in September the ministry provided vaccines to the elderly, children and at-risk members of the population. However, HMOs say only a small percentage have shown up to receive their shots thus far and the general population is still denied the vaccine.