Saturday, December 24, 2016

Not a Dickensian tale

The Neve Ha'irus institution [Image Source]
This is reality for some people with disabilities in Israel of 2016.

Bizchut, the Israel Human Rights Center for People with Disabilities, has released the following summary of an unannounced visit last Thursday by the director of its Community Outreach Department, Naama Lerner, together with Knesset Member Ilan Gilon, to a closed institution for people with cognitive disabilities, Neve Ha'irus, in Nes Ziona. 

They were responding to a series of serious complaints from parents of residents and from past employees at Neve Ha'irus that Bizchut had received about that institution.

There they say they encountered many disturbing sights that included extreme physical and emotional neglect. Some of the shocking findings they reported:
  • Residents locked into their dormitories without any activities.
  • Bedrooms bare of personal cupboards or personal clothing. Some beds have boxes underneath them containing all of the resident’s personal possessions.
  • Some of the beds lacked any bedding or winter blankets.
  • In some of the dormitories,  the kitchen and bedrooms are locked, barring residents from entering their own rooms when they seek a bit of privacy.
  • The handles of bedroom doors have been removed to prevent the residents from entering their rooms. Each staff member carries a handle in his pocket which he inserts into the door when he needs to open it.
  • Signs of rampant neglect including spider webs.
  • The absence of any books, games or computers. Residents roam around to and fro with doing nothing to do. A very difficult sight to behold: people are erased, robbed of their identity.
The homepage of the Neve Ha'irus website says the institution, established in 1957, has been under the full supervision of the Ministry of Welfare since 1985.

The original Hebrew text of the Bizchut announcement (posted here) goes on to say:

It was recently reported to Bizchut that, three weeks before, the dead body of a resident had been removed from the premises. When we arrived there to investigate, we happened to find an intensive-care ambulance standing at the institution’s entrance, preparing to rush to hospital another resident in a state of hypothermia.

This facility, intended to serve as home to 130 people, must not be tolerated. It is not located in some isolated spot but rather in the very center of the country, in Nes Ziona. The conditions there should not be permitted to exist in today’s State of Israel.

We demand that the Ministry of Welfare:
  1. Immediately close Neve Ha’irus and transfer its residents to appropriate settings within the community.
  2. Appoint an outside, independent body (an ombudsman) that will review the complaints lodged so as to ensure that the voices of the residents of closed institutions are heard and that abuses such as these are eliminated.
  3. Investigate the deaths that have occurred in the past year at Neve Ha’irus and ascertain the reasons behind the hospitalizations of residents.
If you would like to join our effort, please contact Naama Lerner at Bizchut at or by phone 052-856-6219. Please leave a message and we will get back to you.

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