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Israeli Hospitals Told to Get Ready for COVID-19 Peak (with VIDEO REPORT)

Health Ministry: Reduce non-coronavirus care

As the death toll from the novel coronavirus and the number of infected cases continued to climb on Sunday, Israel’s Health Ministry had a message for hospitals around the country: Reduce non-coronavirus care.

The ministry, in a letter to all hospital administrators, demanded that within three weeks, 80% of beds be allocated to patients with COVID-19.

The decision is creating friction between health authorities and those on the front lines of the crisis.

Prof. Zeev Rotstein, the CEO of Hadassah Medical Center, speaking to the Knesset’s coronavirus committee on Sunday, accused the Health Ministry of publishing inaccurate data on testing rates.

Rotstein and Health Ministry Deputy Director-General Dr. Itamar Grotto, in their testimony to the lawmakers, disagreed about the number of tests performed.

Also, Rotstein has demanded that more tests be performed on medical staff, despite the shortage of test kits.

Hadassah Medical Center’s two university hospitals in Jerusalem have a combined 1,000 beds and are treating numerous people with the novel coronavirus.

Prof. Jacob Assaf, the head of Quality Improvement in the Emergency Medicine Department, told The Media Line he feels good about where things stand.

“In Jerusalem and in Israel generally, things are more or less under control. My feeling is that we are not running in the direction of Italy and Spain and what happened in China and what is happening now in the United States. We are not there, and I believe we will not be there,” he said.

As of Sunday, 44 persons have died from the novel coronavirus in Israel. There have been 8,018 confirmed cases of the disease. There are currently 127 serious cases, and 477 persons have recovered.

Naela Hayek is a supervising nurse in Hadassah’s intensive care unit. She told The Media Line that she is making do for now, even as health systems across the globe teeter on the verge of collapse.

“So far so good. We had enough ventilators this past week. I think we have 150 and there are another 30 ventilators on their way to our hospital,” she said.

Hayek said additional staff will be needed. Preparing them for the challenge has become one of her top priorities.

“We know that we will need more nurses in the ICU; that’s why we are doing a lot of training.”

Under the Health Ministry’s instructions, hospitals are to assign 30% of their beds to COVID-19 patients suffering moderate to serious symptoms who are hooked up to ventilators, while 50% will be assigned to coronavirus patients not attached to ventilators.

Hadassah officials made it clear that the coronavirus transcends borders and does not discriminate among people. They are coordinating their response with medical professionals abroad.

Julie Benbenishty, an ICU nurse and an academic consultant at Hadassah, told The Media Line that connecting with medical professionals around the world had tremendous benefits.

“We are linked to ICU nurses all around the world, minute by minute, learning how everyone is coping, how my Italian friends, my French friends, the nurses in the UK, how they are coping with this huge amount of critical patients,” she said.

The cooperation extends to the Palestinian territories, Benbenishty said.

“We have physicians who were trained here, ICU physicians who were trained here, who now work in Ramallah and Hebron and throughout the West Bank. So we know that they are trained and we are in touch with them all the time,” she said.

Doctors said the government’s measures have helped to contain the outbreak but that they are still planning for the worst-case scenario.