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From the Desk of Avigdor Kaplan

Dear Hadassah Family,

At the beginning of May, I was appointed Director General of the Hadassah Medical Organization. At the beginning of June, I moved into my new office and assumed a broad range of challenging responsibilities, among them, a serious financial crisis.

Many people have asked why I took on this position and these challenges at this rather senior stage in my life and my career. My reasons are both personal and professional. Like most Israelis, I have long considered Hadassah to be the jewel in the crown of Israeli medicine. My background in the health sciences and my years of management in related positions, only reaffirmed my conviction.

I agreed to become Director General of the Hadassah Medical Organization because I deeply believe that with a balanced approach, by the end of 2014 we will have overcome the current financial situation. By streamlining our efforts to achieve reasonable running costs, I am convinced that soon we will able to strengthen our investment in HMO's infrastructure, research and medical innovations.

But before we can look to tomorrow, we must address today's realities. We must determine what we need to fix, what we can fix and what we must learn to live with.

Israel's national health insurance law ensures that all Israeli residents receive a wide variety of medical services and procedures. They are probably among the most comprehensive in the world and among the lowest in cost to the population. However, in an effort to maintain this status, as the law is now administered, it forces hospitals to either decrease services or to provide them as usual and assume substantial debt. The few Israeli hospitals like Hadassah that are owned by non-profit organizations suffer the most from this policy.

We can lobby the government to revise its payment policy, which I don't think will happen in the near future, but the government is not the only entity responsible. Some of our problems can be resolved by taking a long, hard look at ourselves and how we function.

Hadassah has many Centers of Excellence staffed by physicians that are among the finest in Israel. Despite the difficulties, Hadassah continues to be a leader in research, education and clinical services. We are already considered among the top university research hospitals in the world and I know we can be even better. I believe that many of the research projects underway, especially those in the earliest stages, have the potential to achieve major breakthroughs in the decade ahead. However, we must attain a balance.

For some time now, Israeli healthcare providers have disregarded what I call "the patient experience." We must provide good service as well as good medical care throughout our entire Medical Center. But equally important, our patients must feel they have received good service; that the doctors and nurses have taken the time to interact with them individually and personally. While this may sound trivial and trite, I believe our patients must leave Hadassah with the feeling that they have been embraced with a warm hug. We have to invest extra effort to enhance patient satisfaction. It is an essential component of "Hadassah's human touch."

Other measures we will be forced to take will involve more than changing a mindset and will probably result in difficulties and disagreements. Yet, I know that if we fully cooperate and conduct ourselves with personal and professional transparency, we will achieve our goals.

The women of Hadassah and the men, the members of Hadassah's impressive organization throughout the United States and throughout the world, are doing a magnificent job. They always have and I believe they always will. I am quite certain that if their impact and investment could be calculated in dollars and cents, we would learn that they have contributed more to the healthcare system in Israel and pre-State Israel than all the other hospitals in Israel combined.

For me, ensuring the glory of Hadassah is a national mission as well as a personal one. It is essential for the glory of the State of Israel. It is vital for the hundreds of thousands of patients who depend on HMO and for our dedicated employees who make that possible. I know that with your understanding and support, and our mutual devotion to Hadassah, we will be successful.

Avigdor Kaplan, PhD

Date: 7/2/2013
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