Sources inform ''Globes'' that the Ministry of Health has given Assuta Medical Centers Ltd. permission to begin limited public services at the new Ashdod hospital next year. Assuta, a private hospital, won the tender to build the public hospital, construction of which will be completed in six years. Assuta will not be allowed to provide private medical services in this stage.
Assuta will operate an emergency room in a sheltered structure to protect against missile attacks, an internal medicine ward, a geriatrics ward, pediatrics ward, cardiology center, oncology institute, and dialysis institute.
Assuta will not provide surgical facilities, except for cardiac catheterization. The wards will have 105 beds altogether and an additional 100 beds for up to 24 hour hospitalizations.
The services will be provided in a six-floor building, built by the haredi (ultra-orthodox) NPO Refuah Veyeshua (Medicine and Salvation), which quit the tender, despite investing tens of millions of shekels in it. This facility will have a CT and MRI scanner. The building's underground parking garage can be converted into a hospital during an emergency.
The partial operation of the Ashdod hospital is good news for the city's 230,000 residents, and will happen ten years after the Knesset passed the law ordering the construction of a public hospital in the city. More interestingly, however, is that the Ministry of Health comes one week after the government was forced to respond to a petition filed with the High Court of Justice by several NPOs against Assuta providing private services at the hospital. The petitioners, including the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and Physicians for Human Rights, contended that the operation of a private hospital contravened the principle of equality stipulated in the Health Insurance Law. The government argued in response that the right to provide a quarter of the surgical procedures on a private basis was the reason Assuta bid in the tender, and without this clause, it is liable to withdraw from the project.
Sources inform ''Globes'' that Ministry of Health director general Prof. Ronny Gamzo is not a party to the government's position that was presented to the High Court of Justice. He believes that the Ashdod hospital is economically viable without the provision of private medical services. It is possible by allowing Assuta to provide limited public medical services at the hospital is intended to demonstrate the hospital's viability without private services to Assuta and the Ministry of Finance, in addition to helping meet the medical needs of Ashdod's residents.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on April 11, 2012
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