Hadassah hospital first Jerusalem public institution to switch to natural gas

The savings are expected to be in the millions of shekels per year while helping to bring cleaner air to the city.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Hadassah-University Medical Center’s branch celebrated becoming Jerusalem’s first public body to begin running on natural gas at a ceremony attended by city officials, The Jerusalem Post reported Tuesday.

“This is a historic event in Jerusalem,” said Mayor Moshe Lion after the announcement of the hook-up to the city’s new gas pipeline. “The future belongs to green energy, and this is where we need to go as a city.”

The switchover, which took place some six weeks ago according to Jerusalem news site Kol Ha’Ir, is expected to save the hospital millions of shekels a year. Hadassah CEO Prof. Zeev Rotstein said the extra money will be plowed back into patient care.

“Our patients and those around us will be able to breathe cleaner air,” he said, “and the economic savings will allow the hospital to expand the services it is able to provide the many patients who come through its doors.”

The NIS290 million pipeline, built in two sections by Rotem Natural Gas Ltd., was inaugurated in January. In all, it runs 34 km from the plains below the Jerusalem hills to the capital.

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According to a statement by Israel Natural Gas Lines, the government company that is creating gas infrastructure throughout the country, the medical center is the first of many iconic Jerusalem institutions that will be connected to the gas grid. The list includes the Knesset, the Bank of Israel, the government offices’ quarter, universities and the Israel Museum.

The shift to natural gas is part of last year’s ambitious, government-approved plan to produce 20% of Israel’s electricity from cleaner and renewable (read: solar) sources of energy by 2025, with the ultimate target being to raise the share to 30% by 2030.

Hadassah is fully on-board, being naturally interested in a healthier population – and with saving money. During the height of the Covid-19 crisis in June last year, Rotstein estimated to The Jerusalem Post that the hospital had lost NIS1.2 billion because, at the behest of the Health Ministry, it stopped performing elective surgeries and some outpatient clinic work in order to concentrate on the pandemic.

It had also spent by that time some NIS350,000 on equipment for its labs, staff and wards. This came on top of the major cash flow problems the hospital had in the years before the pandemic.

Now, based on its new access to natural gas, Hadassah is currently in the midst of the bidding process for a company to build a small, gas-run power plant on its premises so that the hospital can generate its own electricity. It is also thinking of installing solar panels on all the roofs of its complex, which will potentially save additional millions every year.