professionals slam State for delaying therapy funding for Holocaust
victims. 'Bureaucracy is hurting survivors,' one official says
Published: 04.18.12, 13:21 / Israel News"Sometimes I get the
feeling that the Finance Ministry is waiting for them to die so it can
save money," an official dealing with Holocaust survivors told Ynet on Wednesday.A group of professionals
charged with treating over 3,000 survivors has slammed the State for
putting the elderly Holocaust victims through endless red tape when
applying for mental health services.Masha Yaron, 88, has
survived a stay at the Kovno Ghetto in Lithuania, where she was forced
to do hard labor by the Waffen-SS.
Her father and brother were murdered by the Nazis. She suffers from dementia and neurotic disorders, diagnoses that prompted the Finance Ministry's Holocaust Survivors Rights Authority to recognize her as 50% disabled. And yet, she has been denied State-funded therapy.
Daniel Yaron, her son,
told Ynet he has been pleading with the authority to provide his mother
with a musical therapist for nearly a year, but to no avail. Despite
submitting all the necessary documentation, including referrals from two
senior specialists, his applications have been denied.
"From their point of view, an Alzheimer's patient doesn’t need
musical therapy, but for her, these are the only hours of happiness," he
Moreover, a request Yaron had filed two months ago for a treatment at a geriatric psychiatry center have gone unanswered.
"Some of the survivors don't have the ability to deal with the
process. The bureaucracy has been exhausting. This appears to be their
system – I have sent countless letters and had to wait months for a
reply," he exclaimed, noting that many of the survivors do not have the
family to help with the paperwork.
Therapy approved after patients' death
Social workers and psychologists have leveled criticism at the
system, citing innumerable cases over the past two years in which the
Holocaust Survivors Rights Authority has delayed or denied therapy to
"Things have changed in recent years," one official said. "The
Treasury has decided to regulate and monitor the therapy expenses. The
intention might be good, but it has generated more bureaucracy that
hurts the survivors."
In some cases, applicants received approval after they had died. In
others, applications were rejected due to the fact that the survivors
suffer from dementia. Moreover, survivors are now deemed ineligible for
couple's therapy. On many occasions, the professionals must stop
treatment midway until approval is renewed.
"In the past, it was understood that Holocaust survivors'
therapy is permanent, since the survivor requires it for the rest of his
life and it cannot be limited in time," another social worker said.
"Now, the approval must be renewed every few months.
"The survivors depend on the treatment. They suffer from chronic
posttraumatic stress disorder, with symptoms of depression, nightmares
and flashbacks. Some cannot sleep at night. The symptoms worsen at old
age. For elderly survivors, these treatments are critical."
The Holocaust Survivors Rights Authority approves therapy for
18,000 Holocaust victims each year. The treatments are primarily
provided by foundations like Amcha and Elah foundations, which
specialize in the field. According to the Finance Ministry, the program
has an annual budget of NIS 20 million ($5.3 million).
The ministry denied the officials' charges, saying that "Approval for
treatments is given by the authority immediately, without delay." http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4217744,00.html
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