Israeli psychiatric institution shut down amid suspicions of patient abuse

Added by on November 1, 2012

Israel’s Health Ministry shut down a psychiatric hospital on Thursday, one day after a raid that included two hundred policemen, which resulted in the detention and questioning of 70 medical practitioners.

Police say eight workers have been remanded for between two to five days, and two senior employees – nurses – have been remanded to house arrest.

The hospital has a staff of 100 and houses 160 patients, aged 20-70, many of whom are considered difficult cases. The center became the target of a yearlong police investigation after family and friends of patients brought their suspicions to the authorities.

“We complained to the administrator, we told him that our son said ‘mother, I have no strength,’ because they raised his medicine intake. He doesn’t feel well, so I can’t take him home. They just abuse him,” said Dalia – who did not give her last name – who has 24-year-old that is a patient at the hospital.

She added, “We don’t sleep. We live in fear that tonight he will be hit or they will inject him.”

Police allege the abuse of the hospital’s inmates took place over several years.

The suspects, among whom are doctors and therapists, are believed to have committed sexual offenses, and to have beaten and tied to their beds some of the 160 patients at the Neveh Yaakov facility.

“This is a case of abuse of helpless individuals,” said Police Chief Superintendent Sigal Bar-Zvi.

“They are very serious patients, some have mental disabilities, some have cognitive disabilities, some have both, and there are also inmates with physical handicaps,” added Bar-Zvi.

Bar-Zvi explained that not all of the suspects detained for interrogation are accused of abuse; some are suspected of knowing about the events and not fulfilling their duty to report them to the authorities.

“We intend to bring justice to light and uncover what went on within this very closed institution,” she added.

Kadima MK Rachel Adatto,a physician who heads the Knesset Health Lobby, attributed blame for the alleged abuse to a “lack of government supervision, a pact of silence, inadequate funding and brutality and evil by caretakers who have been arrested for questioning.”

Adatto asserted a 50% cut in the Health and Welfare Ministries’ funding for hospitalization of the chronically ill in public mental health centers was directly responsible for the transfer of patients to private institutions.

Sanitation officials from the Petah Tikva municipality inspected the hospital’s health standards- they found pigeons and cats in the kitchen.

The Health Ministry has temporarily taken over responsibility for running the institution while police investigate the matter.