JTA Accused Of Reporting Fake News On Bikur Cholim VS NYU Controversy

NYU Langone medical center. Photo: Shimon Gifter

NEW YORK-   New York University Langone medical center in Manhattan has their public relations machine spinning out of control in desperate moves after a major backlash against the hospital by the Jewish community.  A story first broke here http://gifteringotham.com/nyu-hospital-broiled-in-controversy-after-barring-60-year-old-volunteer-organization/ regarding a sudden change of policy regarding access to patients and family members by Satmar Bikur Cholim volunteers.

Blima Marcus, a nurse at NYU and the president of Orthodox Jewish Nurses Association was interviewed by a JTA reporter last week regarding her opinion of supporting NYU position on the issue of advocacy. JTA wrote an article that fooled the public into thinking 2,000 nurses back NYU position of not letting volunteers advocate on behalf of patients requesting their services.

Marcus now denies speaking on behalf of the OJNA which consists of over 2,000 nurses. Marcus says in a press release that her statements were her own opinion and slams JTA for using “hyperbolic statements” which in other words is called fake news.

Here is the actual letter that GifterInGotham obtained Sunday evening where Marcus writes a clarification to what she was trying to convey to a JTA reporter.

I would like to clarify my position on an interview I granted to a reporter on the delicate matter arising between NYU Langone, and the Satmar Bikur Cholim. I read an article in which Satmar Bikur Cholim argued that its volunteers must remain in NYU to counsel patients on end-of-life issues and other health matters, since NYU is a “legal killing machine,” according to an unnamed Satmar Bikur Cholim director.

I expressed my disappointment at the Bikur Cholim’s position and was contacted by the reporter for a statement. I spent 40 minutes on the phone with the reporter, and I attempted to clarify the various roles of nurse, volunteer, and advocate. I explained how advance directives are discussed and decided upon, and the vital role nurses play in this discussion. I explained the issues of patient confidentiality and patient privacy, and why volunteers are not in the right position to assist patients with any of these unless specifically called upon by the patient to do so.   And I explained that if the Satmar Bikur Cholim volunteers were not limiting their activities to food distribution, they may be crossing boundaries by discussing sensitive health information with patients.

Unfortunately, as is often the case in the media, several hyperbolic statements were used by the reporter, instead of the clear role descriptions I was trying to emphasize.

Furthermore, while I expressed to the reporter that the opinions were mine, and those of several of my NYU colleagues, the article appears as if my statement was made by OJNA.

I apologize for this ambiguity and for unintentionally speaking as a board member of OJNA. I did not intend for it to be a public statement of the OJNA, which does not issue public statements via the media in this fashion.

OJNA has since clarified its position with its Press Release, which you may view in the attachment below.

Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns.


Blima Marcus DNP RN OCN

Orthodox Jewish Nurses Association also clarified their position after being dragged into the controversy by the JTA reporter who identified their interview with Blima Marcus as talking on behalf of 2,000 registered nurses and in which we now know was a lie. An OJNA source says part of the conversation was even off the record.

JTA writes on Friday that they “learned” other members of the Hasidic community, including some representing the Satmar movement, met Friday morning with NYU Langone officials suggesting that Satmar Bikur Cholim does not speak for the entire community. JTA continues, A source who provided photographs of the meeting said, “NYU reassured their full commitment to serve the community and will continue to accommodate Bikur Cholim activities in accordance with the Hospital policies.”

 In a direct message, the source wrote: “The community greatly appreciates the @NYULangone leadership for their understanding and cooperation.”
JTA makes it sound like they learned something new which they did not. When JTA wrote a “source who provided photographs”, it so happens to be that Twitter was the source but it’s beneath the dignity of the JTA to be honest and tell it’s readership that their “source” was a picture from twitter account @wmsbg.
So we now learn JTA can’t be trusted for accurate reporting. JTA seems to have a biased agenda in their reporting on the NYU vs. Satmar Bikur Cholim.
 JTA wrote word for word straight off a twitter account without attribution!  JTA expects the public to believe what they write when they lie about sourcing. And now an entire article based on a 40-minute conversation is being questioned by the nurse who spoke to the JTA reporter. JTA is even being accused of taking some OFF THE RECORD comments and making it public.

When media plays politics and is full of agendas instead of working hard to report the news it just feeds into what President Trump calls many media outlets as “fake news”.

Hasidicnews.com reports on their web page that Hasidic hospital liaisons are believed to receive six-figure incomes from the hospitals they work for (other hospitals also hire liaisons). Although NYU would not reveal the identity of its Hasidic liaisons, they are believed to be as follows:

Mosheh Nusen Braver — Head of Williamsburg Hatzoloh. His influence with Hatzoloh members is meant to cajole Hatzoloh volunteers to transport patients to NYU.

Srully Roseman — Hatzoloh paramedic.

Rafi Kurts — another Hatzoloh member.

Meir Schnitzler — sexton (“gabbai”) at Satmar Rodney.

Mr. Brach- Williamsburg Hatzolah member

According to rumors, there may be someone in the office of the Zalmanite Der Yid who is also on the hospital’s payroll. Or, perhaps, it was a mere ad-hoc financial transaction that led to the paper’s surprising retraction of its previous criticism of the hospital.

The notice in this week’s paper reads (translated from Yiddish):

NYU management and officials contacted us and clarified to us that certain details of the [last week’s] report were incorrect. The hospital administration clear that they respect and highly esteem the terrific activities that the world-renowned Bikur Colim of Satmar has been doing for decades for Jewish patients in hospitals throughout New York who must, unfortunately, resort to hospital treatment.  We apologize for the erroneous report and we wish the staff and administration of the hospital great success in their effort to facilitate for those who must resort to it and for their family members. — the editor

As for Marcus statement to JTA last week that Satmar Bikur Cholim, “should be delivering chicken soup and leaving,” is way beyond chutzpah it’s more that Hatzolah should drop off the patient into a professional medical care center such as NYU and not act as liaisons as a follow-up because they now become like a highway cop reporting to an accident scene and advising the driver to wait for his tow truck that will take his car to his collision shop.

This is a conflict of interest at it’s highest levels.

A senior source  of a volunteer organization said, “there should be a full investigation by the State Dept of Health on each and every volunteer ambulance member that transports patients to hospitals and then acts as a liaison to that hospital.” This is borderline criminal and a major ethical problem. If anyone is going to allege HIPPA violations by a volunteer advocacy group it should be just as concerning when someone is actually profiting off peoples lives.

“This is shameful, disgusting, unethical and criminal,” according to the senior member of a volunteer organization.

And sources claim that some of these liaisons aka: volunteer ambulance members are also on the payroll by these hospitals.

Another family member of a patient at NYU said, “if NYU won’t let Bikur Cholim provide my family member with their food that I was hoping for and that my family member would get, I don’t need these liaisons that the hospitals pick from my community.  I know who Bikur Cholim is and I do not know who those people are.” It’s questionable how they even got the job with NYU.”

Messages to patient relation office were left today and calls have not been returned as of 520PM p.m.  According to NYU staff calls are returned even on memorial day weekend.

The Founder of the Bridge Multicultural Center and chairman of CAPS which is the advocacy division of the Rabiniacal Alliance of America

Mark Meyer Appel issued a statement this morning on the NYU saga.

“NYU Langone medical center response to the ongoing attacks on the Satmar Bikur Cholim is unacceptable and misguided. Religious beliefs can’t be compromised. All of the organizations are now unified as to the rights of volunteers to join and assist all families without interference. The issue can and must be resolved by an open, honest and candid discussion between the hospital and medical experts who are impartial. Employees or liaisons to NYU should not be involved.




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