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MoH orders staff changes following malpractice claims at Beit Jala Hospital

Oct. 23, 2016 8:29 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 23, 2016 8:29 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian Ministry of Health has ordered a series of personnel transfers in Beit Jala Hospital and the Bethlehem Health Directorate, following the death of two hospital patients and accusations of malpractice over the past month.

Ministry of Health Spokesman Osama al-Najjar said in press statement on Sunday that the transfers were made as a result of the recommendations from a technical committee formed to investigate the conditions in Beit Jala Hospital following the accusations.

Al-Najjar added that the decisions concerned all aspects of the hospital including its administrative, medical, and technical operations, and also took into consideration shortages of personnel and medical equipment. 

Notably, Ghada Kawwa was appointed as the director of Beit Jala Hospital to replace Ziyad Shaqir, making her the first female doctor to take charge of a Ministry of Health hospital.

Kawwa previously served as the head of Health Affairs at the Ministry of Health Directorate in Bethlehem, and had been employed there since 1990. Shaqir now fills her former position.

The technical committee was formed after two patients of Beit Jala Hospital died this month, sparking accusations of malpractice and medical negligence. 

After 44-year-old Faida al-Atrash died in the hospital of kidney failure while undergoing a dialysis treatment on Oct. 10, her family demanded an investigation into what they argued was a case of medical negligence, and accused Shaqir of lying about the circumstances of her death.

Faida’s father, Muhammad al-Atrash, said at the time that his family held three members of the hospital’s staff responsible for his daughter’s death, without elaborating on their positions or how they were involved. 

A Ministry of Health commission later determined
that her death was not the result of medical negligence, but of natural causes.

Separately, after undergoing stomach surgery at Beit Jala Hospital, Ali Taqatqa was taken to al-Mizan hospital in Hebron, and then to Israel's Hadassah Medical Center where he was pronounced dead on Oct. 11, according to Palestinian news site al-Quds Network. 

The report said that a medical report from Hadassah confirmed that the cause of death was severe bleeding as a result of the surgery.

According to spokesman al-Najjar, the personnel changes were as follows:

- Ghada Kawwa appointed director of the Beit Jala Hospital

- Riyad Sharim appointed as acting medical director of Beit Jala Hospital

- Muhammad Thweib appointed acting administrative director of Beit Jala Hospital

- Khalil Sbeitan appointed director of ancillary medical services of Beit Jala Hospital

- Ziyad Shaqir appointed director of health affairs at the Bethlehem Health Directorate

- Ilham Rahhal appointed director of ancillary medical services at Bethlehem Health Directorate

- Mahmoud al-Shabbah appointed director of nursing at Beit Jala Hospital

- Firyal Yasin appointed director of nursing at Bethlehem Health Directorate.

- Nabil Rayyan appointed director of ancillary medical services at Jerusalem Health Directorate

- Wijdan Sultan appointed director of nursing affairs at Muhammad Said Kamal Psychiatric Hospital 
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