Saturday, January 4, 2014

Iran or Israel?

Two weeks ago my daughter had a 103.5 fever,  hours before we were leaving to visit my family in the United States. Luckily, my in laws were with me. We decided because she and I  were flying, we needed to go to the ER for a clear diagnosis. For example, if she had strep throat or an ear infection, we wouldn’t fly. The nearest hospital to our apartment is Laniado in Netanya. I knew nothing about this hospital except that there was a sign for it on the highway and a friend of mine had delivered her baby there.

First, and most importantly, the medical care she received there was excellent  (especially from one of the nurses), thorough and fairly fast for an emergency room. She was diagnosed with something not contagious, but that for sure required ER care, and we made our flight to Chicago.

However, the hospital experience was the most bizarre I have ever experienced in Israel. I have been to five medical facilities in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Be'er Sheva. Laniado was my sixth in this country. When we pulled up to the hospital, the parking lots were gated off. When we asked a security guard to open the gate, he gave us a hard time: “It’s Shabbat,” he said.  My mother in law told him that we have a sick little baby, and he relented after a bit of back and forth. However, he said to drop her off, and then park blocks away from the hospital. When we entered the hospital, I was taken (my mother in law came with me) to a back room with my daughter. The intake person  (who was also lovely) handed me a cell phone. There was an unidentified man on the line that said, “Listen, it’s Shabbat. No (pediatricians) are around. Can you come back tomorrow?”

Clearly, I wouldn’t have come to an emergency room if I could have come back tomorrow, but I explained my situation, and he said, “Well, can you wait around until Shabbat ends so you can pay your bill.”

I told him I didn’t understand what he was asking – although I did because I wanted him to actually say it: They didn't really want me receiving care on Shabbat, but if my daughter really needed care, they didn’t want payment on Shabbat, but they didn’t want me skipping payment.  There is a clear sign at the admissions' window that says how much tourists and residents must pay for an ER visit.  (My daughter and I are not citizens of Israel). I said he could have my place of employment, my address, my passport number, and that I would for sure not forget to pay my bill.  My mother in law also offered her address and passport number. He argued with me some more (by the way, I still have no clue who this was) and then again relented.

While we were in the waiting room, I called my husband to give him an update. A different security guard scolded me me, “No cell phones; it’s Shabbat.”  My father in law wanted to entertain my daughter with a little video on his cell phone. Again, a security guard looked over and said, “No cell phones; it’s Shabbat.”

This is the video my father in law wanted to show my daughter. 

Because of all of the tests my daughter needed, by the time we left, Shabbat was over and we could pay our bill and be on our way.  But regardless, here are my questions:

1.     Why is an Emergency Room open on Shabbat if they do not want people to come there on Shabbat?

2.     Is this kind of Sabbath intimidation legal? It’s the hospital’s right, I guess, to close off its parking lot, but do the security guards have the right to demand that I not talk on my cell phone because of the Sabbath? (It’s not a rule because cell phone use is annoying; it’s a rule because it’s a “commandment.”  Do they have the right to not let us drop off the baby at the front of the hospital?

I ask these questions for two reasons:

a.     I have friends who live in this area (Even Yehudah) who are not Jewish, and would not understand the hospital’s behavior and be really put off by it Despite the good medical care, I would probably steer them clear of it, unless this was an anomaly.
b.      What are my rights in a situation like these, besides to go to a hospital in Tel Aviv if we, and I hope we don’t, need an ER again?

Looking forward to your responses.


Sharna Marcus said...

Here are comments from other social media sites:

1. What a strange experience. Glad Miss Maya is ok.

Sharna, sorry you had to go this unfortunate experience. As for your questions, no, the security guards have no right or authority to demand you for not using the phone or intimidating you in any way or shape. I had few similar past experiences and my answer has always been quite blunt, "I do not keep shabbat so leave me the hell alone." I am not sure why they do not have a pediatrician on call during the shabbat either. As a rule, when your kid needs ER care in Israel I would take them to one of the hospitals that have a dedicated pediatric ER. The parking lot issue is simply retarded and if they really cared about anything that is Judaism they would know that "פיקוח נפש דוחה שבת" and hospital (especially ER) is not the place to enforce shabbat laws. I am not sure about Laniadu but I think this should be brought up to someone higher up or the media, so that can be changed.

3. Laniado is a considered to be a religious hospital. But they are still idiots. they needed to diagnose the situation and understand that she needs an immediate treatment, and then they can bypass the rules of Shabat.
Laniado Hospital - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Laniado Hospital, also known as the

4. That is so bizarre. Sorry you had to deal with that!

5. Pikuach nefesh overrides Shabbat - period, end of story. I'm sorry they gave you a hard time.

6. Sorry to hear that was such a tough experience. Glad Maya is all better:) The hospital experience e doesn't add up...but then again, a lot of things these days don't...

7. It was founded as an ultra orthodox hospital. odd

8. The ER says it is open to children and they did have a pediatrician on call. It was just bull shit to try to get me not to stay. Once I told them I was staying, the pediatrician saw her in about 20 minutes. I know it's a "religious" hospital, but it takes money from the state. It's not entirely private and on its web site it says it treats everyone and anyone. I have no idea who to contact about it.

9. because taking a child to the ER isn't stressful enough.

10. Its not a strange experience, its a disgusting reality of the religous coercion in this country. in general that is not the normal experience. IN most ER you'll find Muslim, Xtian, Orthodox, secular and no problems. You should had told them the yeshiva will pay for it. SOrry you had to put up with those people.
8 hours ago · Unlike · 1

Sharna Marcus said...

More comments from other social media sites

11. I took a student to Hadassah Ein
Kerem on Shabbat and this was NOT the experience we had.

12. I was hospitalized in Laniado for a month before my daughter was born and never encountered something like this. Maybe because it wasn't an er situation neither I bedded to pay any bill. However, the environment in Shabbat was awkward. My family was also asked to park outside and we weren't able to use the elevators. I guess the whole situation changes when it's an er situation and I think ethics should come first. The hospital is private so I guessed that's why they are allowed to have their own rules. I do think though, that when it comes to health, religion should be totally set aside...

13. Laniado is a religious hospital, so that's why they gave you a hard time.

14. Why didn't you take her to the children's hospital across the street. I've been there 2x now over Shabbat both times and it's just the way it is there but if I hadn't been there over Shabbat I might have been a bit shocked. The first time I was with 2 very religious women in the same room it wasn't fun.

Sharna Marcus said...

More comments from social media
15. No excuse for such behaviour.

16.I know people who have gone to other hospitals exactly because of this behavior. A friend left two hours after giving birth because they are a religious hospital and their shabbat policy is clear. She was not going to spend the weekend without her cell phone, haha.

I had a home birth and needed to go to the hospital within 24 hours for paperwork. I live right in between laniado and Hillel have, and for any other thing I'd go to Hillel yafe, but they have a minimum 10 hour stay and laniado only has a three hour stay. It was horrrrrrible!!! The staff were rude, we spent the whole time in a hallway, and the maternity ward (not the birthing center) was gross! I'd never go there again, but that was only my experience

17. Sharna Marcus I just don't think you should run an ER if you only want one type of patient.

Like I said, the care was very good. I'm just wondering legally if they have the right to bully you that way. Also, it's private, but it receives money from the state. I know it's not the US, but the only comparison I can think of is that in Catholic hospitals you can't receive abortions, birth control or the morning after pill. However, when I was once admitted to a Catholic hospital, I asked them to take down the cross in my room, and they did it very quickly and graciously.

18. Laniado saved my mum's life when we were on holiday in Netanya when I was 11 years old. They cared for my grandmother several times in her final years before she passed away aged 99, and they saved the lives of my grandparents in law after a car crash a few months ago.It is an excellent hospital that values life above all. Along with that they ask you to respect their religious beliefs.

19. They didn't ask. They didn't explain. They bullied. If you are choosing a hospital to be admitted to for an elective procedure or to deliver, that is one thing, but an ER is a different service. Typically, when needing emergency care, you choose the closest ER not the one that fits your theological criteria. Also, their web site, where we found their address, does not say that all patients must adhere to Shabbat observance nor does it say that patients must pass some sort of verbal test before being allowed treatment in the ER. I agreed that the medical care was good.

Sharna Marcus said...

More comments from social media:
20. Not taking sides at all, but just to shed some light. According to Jewish law, you are permitted to break Shabbat in order to save a life. So although the people there should have been WAY more graceful, it sounds like they were just making sure that the situation was urgent enough for the religious doctors to get involved on Shabbat. They should have calmly explained that to you instead of talking to you the way that they did, and assuming that you knew. And regarding cell phones, same deal-- I think it's ok for them to request a Shabbat friendly atmosphere, but a similar hospital that I know has signs up,and also has a special room where you can go to use your phone if you want. In summary, I don't think that it's as much of an awful situation as some make itbt to be, but it's really obvious that they need to seriously rethink their approach

21. Having had a ton of contact with the staff there (including in my pre-religious days) I can only tell you that they they wouldn't have meant to be bullying. As Cori said, they were trying to explain stuff to you, although clearly not in a gracious enough manner. Israelis in general take a much more direct approach than Americans, plus they think most people who come to the hospital with get the whole Shabbat thing, since most Israelis understand it (even if they don't keep it.) I'm sorry you had a rough time with your kid, and I'm glad the medical care you got was excellent. Hope she's feeling better now.

22. Agreed with Naomi that they probably treated you that way out of ignorance and making assumptions about what you did and didn't already know, but I don't think that it excuses it, if I were you, I'd write a letter. Not an accusatory one, but offer to help them by giving the relevant employee some thoughts about how they may better serve the general public without compromising their Shabbat observance.

23. (Honestly, a lot of religious Israelis have spent their whole lives interacting mostly with religious people and have no idea how to speak to people respectfully and informatively without being condescending or rude. The same way many secular Israelis lack that knowledge in terms of dealing with datim. A good way to deal with it may be to offer some much needed information )

24. Not to say that it's a bad hospital, but both my sister and I were bullied and treated poorly by their staff. My sister also had a home birth, and they accused her of lying about the baby's age (because they said his cord stumped looked old). Also, her labor only lasted one hour, so the baby was born before the midwife arrived and the doula delivered the baby. They wanted the name of the doula to have her arrested because it's illegal for her to deliver babies (she didn't exactly do it on purpose!). They threatened my sister and bullied her until both her and my non Hebrew speaking mother were both in tears. And it had nothing to do with religion because my sister is religious.

As with anything, different people have different experiences.